my climbing girls

Another friend is leaving. It’s not the first time, but the sadness and reality of transience bites harder.

Two things stand out in my life these past few years with COVID. One was I met the greatest love of my life. And the other one was finding a new family in the form of my climbing friends. The origin of our circle was rather unusual. From a small nucleus, we grew into an actual group of friends by way of different fortunate circumstances. In the beginning, all we did was climb. Once to thrice a week, no strings attached. We met and parted at the gym – our conversations mostly revolving around betas. One day, we dared push the envelope and brought our friendship outside the hold-studded walls.

I said ‘new family’ because I never really expected to form a new set of friends at this stage of my life. Work would have been the most likely source of friends if you know how introverted and unsociable I am. I like sticking to groups of 2-3. For awhile, it felt like the golden years of our friendship would last. It was what kept me, maybe us, positive, preoccupied, even happy, during the isolating days of the pandemic. We didn’t mind if restaurants closed, as long as the gym remained open. It was a familiar routine – arrive, bag down, warm up, gear up, climb until you can’t, leave together and part ways in the usual forks. In periods of rest, we slowly got to know each other’s stories. People from different walks of life enjoying the same past time, solving climbing routes together, shouting allez’s for motivation, progressing through certifications – just writing about it makes me sigh at how time flew by.

As restrictions loosened, our ‘family’ also changed. Some changed to more demanding careers, some transitioned from being single to being committed, some got bored of the excuses and looked for new climbing friends, but we climbed together whenever we can. We were always a group we could each count on. We celebrated birthdays together whenever we could, even Christmas.

As one of them is about to leave Singapore for good to settle down, I can’t help but wonder what our future will be like. It’s the same with all families. The time comes somebody needs to leave, things both change and don’t, yet it’s never quite the same. I know the secret is not to look back, but to look ahead. But before I do, permit me one last time while we’re all still here…

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