i think i can?




Forty-something women with kidney transplants and several pounds too many on their never-athletic frames should not believe they can scramble up the side of a mountain after three able-bodied teenagers. Wearing a skirt.

Yet there I was last week, high in the Bavarian Alps, on a top secret mission from middle child, clinging to an old wire fence and truly pulling myself up a vertical ascent over tree roots and rocks, trusting that said fence could reliably bear my extra pounds and not uproot itself and send me tumbling to my demise. In a skirt.

When we realized that middle child’s GPS was leading us not along a horizontal path but straight up the mountain (and who said north is not up??), I nearly took a pass. I almost said, “Just too hard. I cannot do this. We’ve got to go back down down and forget about it.” I simply could not imagine how I was going to have the stamina for that climb, particularly not being quite certain we’d even find what she sought.

But I didn’t. I could not disappoint her and her quest. Which is how I ended up on the fence. In a skirt. Partway up we noticed a young man climbing behind us. I’m pretty sure he saw way more of my middle aged booty than he ever bargained for. Not only that, but the poor guy was only taking that insane route because he thought we were in search of the perfect photo, and he wanted it too. When he found us all gathered around middle child’s treasure at the top instead, going nuts over a box of google eyes, paper clips, and other odd items, he got very confused. Right now, there are probably stories circulating somewhere in Asia about four women doing occult rituals on top of the Alps in Germany. It will probably create a new tourist destination.

I think I can. Climbing, I felt less like the optimistic little engine that could and more like the stubborn mule that would, no matter whether it was a good idea or not. In the end, however, it doesn’t rally matter, does it? Either one gets you to the top. Sometimes, optimism fails you, and sheer tenacity is all there is to cling to. And it will get you to the top, if you hang on to the fence for dear life and just keep going. By the way, the view from there is beyond spectacular.

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