Friday, August 26, 2005

a foot in the water

I work on floor 27. Floors 17-30 belong to my firm. Floor 4 is the lobby on the east side; the west side lobby is on floor 1, but the elevator doesn't go down that far. Normally, I take the elevator from the west lobby up to floor 27 and walk around the corner, through the kitchen/copy room and to my large corner desk in a small interior corner.

When I cam here to interview--or on my first day--I could only go to floors 19 and 29. The other lighted buttons responded to my mashing with little more than a blink on and a stubborn return to off. Now, with my fancy schmancy badge, the world is mine and the elevator is my chariot. But only so long as the world doesn't include anything between 5 and 16 or 31 and 40.

You can take the stairs, like I did today. But the stairs are locked just like the elevator buttons, and while 17-30 is my palace, everything else is my prison. So today, as I walked briskly down from 17 to 16 it might have felt something like stepping out of the world, into some sort of immensely long, dark, and foreboding tunnel. And when I finally reemerged into the beaming afternoon sunlight it might have felt as though I had safely re-entered reality--though in quite a different place than where I had left it.

It didn’t.

When I did finally reach the 4th floor door, it felt like i had just walked down 23 flights of stairs.

I feel a bit like that now. And while my legs are by now pretty sturdy, its easy to lose balance. And every now and then, when a sign, or a coke can, or any other little thing catches my eye, I remember going down the stairs and passing someone on their way up and then stepping outside and not knowing exactly where I am, but knowing that I sure as hell am not on the floor I started on.

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