The thing most people don’t know about the Great Wall of China, is that it runs over top of mountains. Up and down. Sharp and jagged like the teeth of a saw. 

There is a wall in front of Abbey Road recording studio. A cement wall parallel to the street where the Beatles walk across the cover of Abbey Road.

I wrote my father’s name on this wall in London.

‘Your dad,’ my brother says. ‘He’d get a real kick out of that.’

I don’t know if he can see it, but you can find him there. On the wall. John Isaacs 3 Abbey Rd, London, United Kingdom. I remember those Sunday mornings when we would come to spend the weekends, Breakfast with the Beatles.

I am the first person in my family to leave the country. I am the first person in my family to get a bachelor’s degree. I am the youngest of four and the second to graduate high school. He’d get a real kick out of that.

My apartment doesn’t have electricity. We have a power cord from the upstairs neighbor. We have a view of Chipotle through the back window. He’d get a real kick out of that.

I got a public intoxication. I blacked out. Apparently I sat on the corner of the street screaming screaming screaming. He’d get a real kick out of that.

I once had to drive across the Brooklyn Bridge all by myself. I drove all the way from Ohio, up and down, over mountains in Virginia, around curves and dips past semi-trucks. All fifteen hours alone. And I only stopped to pee twice. He’d get a real kick out of that.

I worked third shift, full time, in a factory. Instead of eating during my lunch break I smoked pot with Trish under the stars. I got fired for calling off work too many times. He’d get a real kick out of that. 

And because they say I look like my mother, because I have my father’s sense of humor, I’m thinking that nothing is truly yours until you’re dead. But I don’t want to be my mother nor my father. I want to make my own mistakes and walk my own path, no matter how ragged that may be. I want neither the triumphs nor the defeats, keep them to yourself, I want to form something of my own.

Many people have given me many things, but I think true learning comes from the self. Interpretation. It’s not what you see it’s what you feel. He’d get a real kick out of that.

A year ago from today I stood upon the Great Wall of China. A divider between two places, a bridge that keeps going going going. I stand there alone. It’s crowded. I’m lost within a sea of faces and flashes and frustration.

But I keep moving forward. I climb and climb. Up and down. The steep here is dangerous. I cling to the railing for support and I keep going. I am climbing until my knees burn and my legs cramp and my whole body is shaking, I climb until my feet blister then pop, I climb until I am out of breath and have to stop for a few minutes, I climb until I am light headed, dizzy.

And suddenly I realize the crowd is gone. I am alone in the chill open air, no tourists in sight. They had all given up somewhere along the way, I know this, I remember seeing people and exits.

I stand there alone, just me, at a high point of an ancient stone wall on top of a mountain, touching the sky alongside other peaks. I look out at the expanse before me. I close my eyes and I feel the cool breeze. He’d get a real kick out of that.

Ahead of me the wall continues. The sharp incline looms before me. And I am alone. But this is not enough to stop me. I will keep climbing.

Kate E Lore is a jack-of-all-trades who splits her time up between fiction and nonfiction, a graphic memoir and a written one, screen plays, flash prose, full length novels, painting and comics (not to mention her dating blog.) Climb was written after a trip to China while she was in college getting her bachelor’s degree. It was a time of struggle and growth for her. A time of coming to terms, mourning, and finding new strength she didn’t know she was capable of. 

You can read more of Kate’s work here and see her dating blog here.

Twitter: @KateeLore.

Instagram: @kate_e_lore_comics.


%d bloggers like this: