Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stairway to (Not Quite) Heaven

And so it has come to this:

I now take the stairs… even when I don’t have to.

Every morning I get to work and hike up four flights – 96 stairs in all – and arrive on the fifth floor, wheezing like an asthmatic marathoner.
Looks like...
...Feels like.
With the big "5" placard just outside my reach, my eyesight speckles and my molecules jitter as they rush to pull themselves into a slightly more composed configuration.

I hit the 96th step and take a last deep breath, filling my lungs and sucking my gut... hoping my co-workers overestimate my cardiac health.

I tell myself that flushed cheeks are very attractive and that the small bit of perspiration around my hairline is very healthy and probably (surely!) smells quite lovely.

And, lest you think I’m fooling no one, I offer you this little nugget:

I once actually stopped breathing when I met someone I knew at the top of the stairs.

He watched me swing out of the stairwell and challenged, “Okay, let’s hear it. Let’s hear the breathing.”

My eyes cut quickly away, and I made the split-second decision to just hold my breath.

But while the inhalation stopped, I kept everything else in motion: throwing my shoulders back, smiling, arching an eyebrow, and walking away. Triumphantly.

As I wheeled around the corner, out of sight and almost out of oxygen, I heard, “Wow. That’s impressive.”

Yes, the fact that I didn’t pass out is impressive.

The fact that I held my breath was silly.

And the fact that I’m taking those stairs at all is desperate.

I’m the girl who, after one horrible afternoon moving a friend out of his fifth floor walk-up, vowed to never, ever live any higher than the second floor – unless, of course, there's an elevator.

I’m the girl who sent her interns to check her mailbox one flight up.

And I'm the girl who required the promise of free food to walk up extra steps at the studio.

But I'm also the girl who dashed up and down subway stairs, who walked miles around the city, and who carried much while doing it.

Now I'm the girl who walks nowhere and carries nothing but a paralyzing fear of a pulmonary embolism.

And so I take the stairs.

And park in the back of the grocery store parking lot.

And Zumba while I brush my teeth.

And still I go to bed exhausted from dormancy rather than motion.

To truly match the rigors of New York life, I might have to start taking those stairs once an hour – because something tells me that mouse-clicking is probably not the sort of exercise the doctor recommends.

No comments: