What Elevators and Life Have in Common
Today, I went to lunch with some friends. I don’t know how or why, but we started talking elevators. One of my friends made a statement about lifts.
It was deep.
Elevators and life have a lot in common.
On some floors, people get on to share the ride.
And, on other floors, people get off.
And so it is with life.
The day I moved into the college dormitory tower called the “15 floors of whores,” the blistering summer heat had imperceptibly softened. It was August, nineteen eighty-something.
My future best friend and I lived in adjoining quarters, sharing a shower and a commode. By the time we introduced ourselves, I had listened to several of her conversations and encountered her trash in our shared wastebasket. I felt like I already knew her.
The moment we finally met, I opened my door to the bathroom at the precise moment she opened hers. She immediately embraced me and invited me to step from my sheltered upbringing into her amazing existence. I went. After following her through the mint-tiled portal, I let her lead me for the next 10 years as I tried to be gorgeous and charming, just like her.
She became my best friend.
I loved her.
She loved me, too.
Despite the love, something changed when I went away to law school. When I came back home after graduation, things were different. I had grown up, and so had she, I suppose. In the process of growing up, we had grown apart.
We no longer fit.
We tried to make it work for several years, doing the same things we had done back in college. No matter what we did or how much time we spent together, things just didn’t feel right. Still, we tried.
Even through our uneasiness, we rode the elevator for several more years together.
In the early 2000s, she moved to a big city. She said she needed a fresh start. I visited not long after she had moved.
One night, a taxi cab driver pulled away from the curb as I was climbing into his car. My body was ejected onto the street, and my face smacked the urine-covered curb.
She and her new friend only laughed. I laid on the pavement with an aching head and a breaking heart. Once I could stand, I willed my heeled feet to get me on the first flight back home where I rebuilt my life without her in it.
People will get on.
People will get off.
Spouses. Kids. Friends. Lovers.
They will come and go.
How will you handle it when they leave…then come back…then leave again for good?
It doesn’t have to be a bad thing when someone goes, does it?
Can you be honest with yourself about the signs that have been telling you for a long time that it’s time to end the ride?
Can you detach from the memories of the past or the fears about your future to do what makes you happy in this moment?
Can you suspend your feelings (of guilt, loyalty, anger, resentment, bitterness or betrayal) even for five seconds to send that person a blessing?
Can you look at your empty elevator, and see the gift in the space around you?
Can you understand how more space means more room for something amazing, beautiful and perfect?
When the bell rings telling you it’s time to get off…or on…can you?
And, if it feels right, you should.