I like to think of my arrival at the gym from the perspective of the other climbers, particularly those with Kyle. While I hadn’t completely forgotten the impressions of other people I’d passed so far, I hadn’t been able to change my behaviour, even if I wanted to. But by the time I arrived at the gym, my world consisted of pain-walk-goal. Goal was the only thing that made sense. Besides, my vision was so squinty and blurry I couldn’t really see anything in the peripheral field anyway.
The climbers were lounging between climbs. In walks a young bag-lady wannabe (for some reason, after all, I took all my thing’s from Patrick’s house, so I had a backpack, climbing gear and an overflowing cloth grocery bag).
Kyle stood up and cheerfully asked, “What’s up?”
Child bag lady ekes out a high pitched whisper of, “I don’t know where I am, I don’t know why I came here or how I got here and it’s lost and I don’t know-” etc.
Kyle whisked me away into the entryway hall. He grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “Ok, breathe.” I stared at his abs and breathed. “Look at me.” Shook my head. “Just look at me, it’s ok.” I looked at him. “Ok, good. Now tell me what happened.”
Kyle didn’t let me go until I had explained and was breathing again. During this time, we remained no more than 5 inches apart, and any passersby would have thought they were passing a particularly intense moment (as opposed to a blubbering mess).
I later learned that among the group of lounging athletes was someone Kyle wanted to ask out. Kyle is seriously the best.
After getting out the story, Kyle took over (thank goodness). In the span of about ten minuets he:
1) Called Patrick and explained I was safe.
2) Called my parents to explain the same (both as I would have had to see them later for dinner, and so that I couldn’t cop out of telling them).
3) Tidied my enormous quantity of stuff into his locker.
4) Gave the staff a plausible scenario of me just feeling like crud and needing to hang out for a bit without being bugged.
5) Prevented a further 4 hyperventilation episodes.
6) Made me eat an apple.
7) Settled me into a corner couch.
8) Made copious jokes.
9) Started his work shift at the gym.
10) And started taking notes on the events so far.
1) Kept sobbing.
2) Kept starting to panic again.
3) Stared around with scary eyes, as if expecting zombies to come in the windows, or winged death to walk up to me and shake my hand.
4) Ate an apple.
5) Completely denied that I should seek help.
I spent the day at the gym. I wouldn’t go outside. They gave me pizza. I think they started to think of me a bit like a houseplant – which, all things considered, is not so bad, given the alternatives of being under house arrest, being in serious trouble with either the law or thugs, being insane, or being creepily attached to Kyle.
Anyway, having been given nutrients, I helped with some climbing lessons, read my book, daydreamed and stared at the gym and the climbers, bouldered, nervously repelled conversation, and otherwise stalked my corner.
To top off my childish behaviour for the day, when Patrick arrived, I embodied a kid at a sleepover, refusing to go home (or perhaps, from another perspective, before I got to the sleepover – refusing to leave my parents for the night). I cried, I wouldn’t talk to him, and I made every excuse to wait there longer. Chicken Little was so loud in my head that when I was finally convinced to step outside, I actually looked up as if I would be struck by meteors.
I would like to dedicate part 3, the final part, to Kyle. The next morning both Patrick and I got an email from him, describing the day from his point of view (and boy, did it seem weird for me, having seen the whole day from within my shell, I did not realize the extent of my oddity), and urging me to look into this more. I believe that if he had not sent it, the whole thing would have been ignored for a lot longer.
So thank you, Kyle. I cannot really say it properly, but you are a star.