Every time I got to a staircase on Saturday I couldn't see the stairs. All I could see is the floor I was on and the floor below that I was going to and the giant falling place in between, swirling with danger. I could see myself falling and falling and then at least broken bones, words like crumpled and shattered. I made a system where I would explain to somebody nearby about the vertigo, an odd dizzy trepidation, which I have gotten before. Some of them just put my hand into theirs before I even finished explaining, and they would take me down the stairs while I stared at their shoulders or some other vague horizon and chanted don't look! down! in the rhythm of the descent. Squire took me downstairs, and my first boss when I moved here, and a doctor I knew for a while. Strangers, too. So many kind people, so much sweetness. It's embarrassing to have to keep telling people that there are some things you can't do. I can't go down stairs. The amount that it is embarrassing to tell is the same amount that it is liberating to say out loud, and I had to learn every time, and there were so many stairs.
Finally I was sitting at the top of the flight, above the stairs I couldn't bring into focus, waiting for somebody friendly to come along and hold my hand. Squire's most amazing babysitter, who is now a most amazing woman, came and sat down next to me as I finished my cigarette. I started to tell her how I couldn't see the stairs, how I needed help. And she said, you know, the stairs in this building all recede when they're not being used: you have to push a button to make the stairs come out. You probably just hadn't noticed because you'd been afraid to look. And she pushed it, and I looked down for the first time, really looked, and watched the stairs unfold below me. And then we walked down the stairs, and I laughed, brave and giddy.
Dear brain, I wish you would let me sleep past 4 a.m., but I thank you for waking me up laughing. And for giving me the best metaphors, all the time.