of the climb losing its it-ness, the simple thing of doing it (it was not a
simple thing, but doing, simply doing it, was). And now it was as though
he was not simply climbing but watching himself climbing and, further,
watching what others might see when they saw him climbing.
Blake shook off. The grass in the ditch waved in the wind. Ian took the
spot as driver. A semi passed them and gave a long, blaring honk, which
from the ditch Blake flicked off. He jogged around the jeep. When he
opened the door, a gust of cold whushed in again, and Ian said, I thought
it was supposed to be warmer today.
Nada, Blake said. One of my balls froze off out there. Plopped right
down. Rolled away. And a badger ate it.
All show. It bled into his life, is how Kieran thought of it. It was as
though he were bleeding this sickened self everywhere. Though, again,
he tried to be open and mindful and aware enough that perhaps he was
reading into the cameras too much and perhaps it was something else
in his life that had bled and sickened and made empty and meaningless the climbs and flys, not the cameras alone. It was not possible to
know which way the thing worked: whether the cameras and the feelings of being an actor bled into his life and ruined the climbs and flys
and therefore his life, or whether his life at home, which he often saw
as stagnant and mundane and boring and also somehow as a theatrical
thing, had made meaningless the climb. He could no longer separate
the two worlds. He had to admit either as a possibility. Above all, he was
determined to be fair.
The SUV, filled neatly with camping and climbing gear, with a kayak
on the top rack in case they wanted to ride rapids the next day, rode onto
an off-ramp, which looped, then led into Yosemite. This had once been
Kieran’s favorite part of the ride. A stream rode along the road, down
through boulders; you could hear it from the car. Ian opened Kieran’s
window because this was what they had learned of one another. Ian knew
that Kieran liked to hear the rush of the meltwater through the stream as
they rode up. It was a signal of the beginning of the journey, the window
opening, the sound of the rushing stream’s meltwater, the smell of wet
forest and sequoia and cool moss. Kieran thought of rolling the window
up now because it was cold and because who cared? It was just a stream.
He did not know, could not understand, why he had wanted to hear the
stream before. Yet the window was down and the water was rushing
and Blake said, Titties, which was a thing he often said to jokingly ruin
or perhaps only lighten what Ian and Kieran thought were profound or