Tuesday, June 21, 2011

(Rock) Oasis - Don't Look Back in Anger

Goodbye Front and Bathurst!
Climbing lends itself to a zen-like frame of mind. Talk to climbers, and you'll often hear people speak of 'existing in the moment', of focusing attention on subtle shifts of the body, of grasping to do something right at the edge of physical ability. Of controlling the self.

"Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don't you know you might find a better place to play
You said that you'd never been
But all the things that you've seen will slowly fade away..."

That's the only thing that will ease the pain of this parting -- going climbing. At Boulderz, at True North. Outside. And at the transitional gym, on Carlaw -- and eventually the ‘new Oasis’ on Morse. I have confidence in Karen that it will be a great place to climb. It will be the third climbing gym she's built in Toronto; she knows what she's doing.

A hundred years from now, after the Freed/Minto condominium's expiry date has come and gone, some amateur historian will pick up a pen and write,
"Before the Minto, there used to be a colourful rock climbing gym here, tucked away inside a Victorian-era warehouse. It was built by Karen McGilvray, who built several gyms in Toronto, including the famous…"
We'll see what happens. 

Impact on Our Community
Rock Oasis on Bathurst introduced a whole generation of people in Toronto to the thrill and challenge of climbing. It's been a gathering place for a growing and vibrant community. I used it for training, for developing new skills, and for personal growth.

It's always been about the community. When Oasis moves to Carlaw, the group will fracture and change -- but it will one day heal and become stronger. Individual faces will come and go, but we are all part of a larger, interwoven, real-world network that shares the rapture of climbing.

I feel trepidation about the new place. Don't we all? Of course I'm going to climb there (Summer Sweatfest in August!!) -- but it'll be different. Somehow.

Lights out at Front and Bathurst. June 27, 2011

Places have meaning. The complex relationships we develop with them help define who we are, and how we see the world. This place -- this building, this neighbourhood -- it was ours. But not anymore.

It's going to take me a while to let go.

It hurt to write this essay. Reviewing the history of the corner of Front and Bathurst accentuated the fact that the gym is no longer going to be a part of it, and that something else will soon take its place.

Though the building will be demolished, the memories from Oasis will remain.

I remember sweating, and stinking.
I remember failing sometimes, and being humiliated.
I remember being too hot, too cold, thirsty, and hungry.
I remember aching, and stretching, and gasping for breath.
I remember making friends.
I remember falling -- from routes, and in love.
I remember the ecstasy of sending, right at the desperate edge...
I remember laughter, and smiles.

I remember the joy of movement.

Goodbye Oasis! I'm going to miss you, always.

I won't forget.

Read the next section:
Notes, Disclaimers, Sources and Acknowledgments

You've been reading: Farewell to Rock Oasis, an essay on my home climbing gym. Thanks for reading!  

Table of Contents

Like, Share, or Comment on this post!