Team Tortoise are Cheryl, Min, Opus, Elaine and Carrie

5 torts making their slow and steady ascent up Mt Kinabalu...

Friday, September 10, 2010

About last night















We lost our mountain virginity, the five-some of us, over sweat, laughter and lots of deep breathing.

Did that really happen or did I just dream it?

A week after, I still have to pinch myself to believe that it really happened. Like a drunken encounter in a bar, the details are a blur. The shady pick up lines, brief lapse of logic and consenting adults. Hastily made travel arrangements, heart to heart conversations and getting to know each other better in dark stairwells. Before we knew it, we shed our inhibitions and became gore tex wearing, head lamping, backpacking, mountain troupers!

Climbing a mountain, was always as improbable as my dream of becoming an erotic novelist.

My first thought when Min asked me if I would climb Mt Kinabalu 2 years ago was this - too fat, too slow, too unfit. Crazy!

I couldn't run more than 2 rounds of a track without running out of breath and she wanted to climb wha?

But with each improbability being overcome - running the first 10K, swimming 1500 m in the sea, walking into a ZARA shop and being able to fit into an outfit for the very first time, something shifted in the universe of this fat girl's reality. If I dared to put my finger on an unreachable goal and flung myself recklessly in its direction, strange and wonderful things happen.

And because I had an unquenchable desire to walk on the wild side before I kicked the bucket, I was overcoming rejection and propositioning people to climb mountains with me. First, Elaine, then Lillian, then Min and Cheryl.

No way was I going to die a mountain virgin!

The first night at the hotel after climbing the mountain, everyone too tired to stay up to talk to me, I lay in bed tossing and turning. Excited about completing the climb, but suddenly bereft of staircase to climb, I felt like my heart would burst out of I don't know ... fullness or hollowness?

I climbed out of bed, made my way to the sofas at the hotel lobby and started to process the enormity of it all which felt like a gigantic lump in the chest. Guess I needed to gush to someone and so I did - thanking God for keeping us safe, for giving me this team of crazies and for letting me do this in my lifetime.

So many uncertainties in this trip, last minute illnesses and every step, a step in faith.

As I talked to God and bawled in the public area of the hotel's lobby, a security guard came by asking me if I was ok (must have looked a wreck). He offered me access to the more private internet room and so I found my way into the internet room at 3 am. Moments later just as I went online, Gary msged me on the FB chat box. He too was jet lagged and couldn't sleep. As improbable as it was, 2 persons, married to each other, separated by mountains, time and space, found each other against the expanse of loneliness. Just at the time that I needed him most.

I told him about the steps, the ferrata and my fears. I tried to describe the sunrise on the mountain top and how it was so hard to use the toilets. Everything toppled out of my garbage bin of thoughts until I had nothing left to empty.

So I climbed back into bed, the emotional tiredness giving way now to physical tiredness. Each breath that I heard Min take, a soothing and lulling reminder that I was truly alive and this wasn't just a dream.

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