Stairs & Steps

Stairs have become my enemy.

Every day : 7 flights of stairs, 4 flights of escalators, and half the time, the escalators don’t work. I drag myself out of bed, and immediately, stairs plague my mind. Sunday nights, I dream of stairs. Inside the metro, I lean my head against the glass and dread approaching Concorde, visualizing the long corridor that switches to Madeleine, and the last three flights of stairs before finally reaching the office, where I sit all day when all I want to do is lie down; where I wait for 7pm, knowing I’ll have to face stairs all over again.

It happens a lot that I pause at the top of the steps, hold on to the railing, and try to get ahold of myself. This is silly, I tell myself. It’s just stairs. It’s just walking. But it sucks the life out of me; it leaves me dazed. The crowd of people rush by. One time a kind soul – a woman dressed to the nines in killer heels – stopped and looked back at me, poor me, holding my stomach piteously and drenched in sweat, and asked me if I was ok. I responded that I was and that I was simply tired. She nodded in sympathy and walked on, but I’ll never forget her.

Every night, I dream and dread stairs. All I want to do when I get up is to be home, asleep.


Black screen, white squiggly lines. He presses harder into my stomach, and like magic it appears on the screen. I can hardly make it out first, but then he presses a button and the image is captured on the screen, and for a while I can see, then he moves it again and the image disappears in a swirl of white lines. We watch, open-mouthed. I hardly breathe so as not to disturb the show. I try to make sense of all the lines. I feel as I do when I’m in a museum, putting my nose as close as possible to the picture to see the brushstrokes.

Do you see it, he asks. Everything is good. Bravo, he adds. He presses another button, draws a line across the screen, and a feeling so foreign and intense creeps over my whole body. Foreign. Intense. Foreign. Intense. I want to jump out of the bed and shake like a leaf. Like staring at an artwork in a museum, wondering, how strange is this?


At the end of the day, the last set of stairs I have to climb is 40 steps high. At the end of the day I am reduced to nothing but a sad, tired, sorry figure. I have stood in the metro all the way back, in the midst of the unforgiving crush of people, and the only thing that stands in the way between my bed and me is 40 steps, plus a few steps to the front door. I can’t do it, I think, but I can’t sleep here either. So I pull on the last reserves of energy I have left and pant my way to the top, drop my bag and keys, remove my shoes and dive into the pillows.

And when I am still and asleep and desperately trying to will the night to be longer, the activity continues in me: growing, simmering, forming, dreaming, and, according to the books, turning pirouettes.

Currently listening to:
Company Segundo
Cien Anos de Son

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