My body, substantial though it may be, was practically obscured by the rolling bag, loaded backpack, and two large totes as all of me waited for the elevator to take me to the fourth floor – the highest floor of the hotel. Perfect. I would take this stuff up, dump it in the room, then go back to the car for the remaining rolling bag and the last tote.
I waited. And waited.
After awhile, a man came by and said, “Oh, is it working?” Then he bent over the silver button I had pushed several times, and announced, “Nope. It’s broke.”
Too stunned to respond, I could only stare as he walked through the glass door to the lobby to report the problem to the woman on duty. I stood there, just staring. He looked over at me and gave me a thumbs up. I took inordinate pleasure in that and continued to wait. It wasn’t until he frowned slightly and opened the door, saying, “She’s calling somebody to fix it,” that reality truly hit and I realized I was about to have to walk up four flights of stairs. Twice.
I’m quite proud of myself every day at work when I make it up one flight of stairs with a lighter backpack, a lunch bag, and a Starbucks cup in my hand.
I looked down at my load. Nuh-uh.
This is my spiritual retreat, I thought as I trudged nearly the entire length of the hallway to the stairs. Now I’m going to start it exhausted, sweating, out of breath, and probably repenting for inappropriate language.
Then I got to the stairs. Nuh-uh. Narrow, concrete. I wouldn’t even be able to bounce the wheeled bag up these stairs.
The nice man had followed me down, his small basket of laundry under his arm. I encouraged him to go ahead of me since this would “take me awhile.” He smiled and passed and I wished for chivalry as I pushed the handle on the rolling bag down and hefted it up.
Besides your run-of-the-mill out-of-shapeness that is me, there is also a knee and ankle issue that makes stairs even more fun. I made it up two of the narrow concrete steps and my mind went to that la-la-land of “maybes.”
Maybe the elevator is working now. I should go back and check.
Maybe Mr. Nice Guy will come back and help me.
Maybe nobody will take my stuff if I leave it here and carry up one item at a time.
Maybe I could get a room on the first floor. (She’d told me they were full but maybe she didn’t mean it.)
Maybe God will just lift me up and teleport me to the fourth floor because it’s apparent even now that I’M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT UP THERE.
And then I was at the first landing. Which sounds better than it was since that’s just halfway to the second floor. Terrified someone would come along and see my hacking and wheezing self and call 9-1-1, I kept listening for doors and footsteps, prepared to step out of the way and fake a phone call.
Second landing. Second floor.
By the time I got to the fourth landing – third floor – I was having to stop every couple of steps and put the bag down. I felt like those Biggest Loser guys who get thrown into a huge workout their first day. They whine and cry and throw up . So far I was two for three.
Sixth landing. Fourth floor. I practically sobbed.
My room, of course, was all the way down the length of the hall. I made it inside, dropping bags as I walked in, and stood, hands on my back, gasping for breath and staring out the window at the world below. Four floors below.
I was right off the highway, but I don’t mind that – moving traffic fascinates me. There was an unused parking lot just below me, a large cluster of trees and bushes beside it, each species in different stages of budding, a couple of them full of white flowers. Two sparrows chased each other out of the trees and flew past my window on their way to the roof. The sound of the constantly moving traffic was dulled by the closed window, the muted sounds soothing and steady. I watched the cars and wondered who was in them and where they were going. The sky above it all was a huge expanse of cloudless, late afternoon blue. Perfect.
My breathing gradually calmed down and I realized that, although the memory of the difficult path was not gone, the pain of it was already abating. I thought about standing at the bottom of those stairs and looking at impossibility. And then, one step at a time, possible happened. I grinned at God’s mysterious methods of teleportation.
Then I left the room to get the second load.