It feels like you’ve been waiting forever. You’re idle and you’re impatient, tapping toes and pushing buttons and waiting for a door to open and when it does, when it opens, you smile and you get in and you go for a ride.
You’re not alone, on the way up. This elevator’s occupied — girls with full red lips and pinched cheeks; boys who know your middle name and the origins of your scars; friends who tell you you should go for it or i don’t like him or you know what happened the last time or you really seem to like this one — this elevator is crowded but you’ve committed to this, this ride, you’re invested now.
And one by one, the elevator empties; the temptations dissolve and the whispers quiet and there’s just you left, you who set your sights so high, you who is best suited to take this thing as far as it can go, you who wants to soar. You’re ascending, distant from the earth below you, removed from what you used to know as reality. You’re climbing higher and higher, watching floors pass beneath you, watching numbers alight like they’re keeping count of the times you’ve grinned uncontrollably or the times you’ve blushed or the times you’ve wanted to say i love you but held your tongue instead.
When you reach the top, a floor so high it cannot be named or numbered, you want to stay for a while. You see things from a new perspective: everything below you so far away, so trivial, so foreign. You’ve always been afraid of heights, scared to look down; but now, with your head in the clouds, you can’t remember what it felt like to look at things any way but this. You are higher than you’ve ever been, higher than you knew to be possible, and you like the view.
But what goes up must come down, and so you will. You will and you’ll know it’s coming, you’ll hear the grinding cables and that distant, rhythmic chime that once sounded something like promise but now rings like a fire alarm and you’ll know it’s coming for you, coming to take you back down where you belong. This time you’re not impatient, you’re not tapping toes; this time you’re hoping it never arrives, hoping it stalls, hoping the wires got crossed somehow. This is just a misunderstanding, right?
There’s nowhere to go but down, so that’s where you go, you’re plunging and it feels like a free-fall, like your heart is in your stomach and your stomach is in your knees and your knees are kissing the floor, two pathetic knobs too weak to straighten themselves out, to be of any use, to hold it together. This isn’t a fun ride anymore; this is a derailed rollercoaster, this is a death trap, this is a tragedy.
And passengers will join you in your descent, confining you further, stealing your oxygen so they can say things like you deserve better or you knew this would happen or do the right thing. They’re taking your breath away; you have just enough air to say i know. You know.
Eventually, you’ll reach the bottom, or what you’ll believe to be the bottom anyway, before you regain your strength and straighten your legs and put one foot in front of the other, before you remember how to walk. You’ll think you’ve reached the bottom but really it’s the ground, really it’s reality, really it’s where you should’ve been all along.