A colleague called me the other day. How are you? Did you talk to so-and-so? What are you doing these days? Do you still have those discs? Fine, yes, not much, yes. Could he stop by to pick them up? Sure, what time? Well why don’t you come downtown and bring them, I’ll buy you breakfast? I guess. We could go someplace else if you want. No, the usual place is fine. Say 11:00 am late breakfast? Why not?
So many decisions. What should I wear? Should I drive? Maybe I should drive to Park Royal and catch the bus downtown. Oh, but then I would have to walk 7 blocks from Georgia St. What if it’s raining? Ha. It’s always raining. And then I would have to walk back. Remember last time? Remember how when you got back you were so cold you had to take a hot bath to warm up? Remember?
I decided to drive. I’m not sure if that increased my carbon footprint but I didn’t care at the time, I used to compost. You can justify almost anything, if you want. Nice drive in, no Lions Gate Bridge delays, smooth sailing through Stanley Park. I checked the lot. You have to pay! I park on the street except the sign says you need a West End permit. Knowing how things go, I get the sense if I leave the car, I will get a ticket. I walk over to the lot and press the button. $2 for an hour. I have no real money, only plastic.
Walking towards the restaurant I see a branch of my bank. My bank. Right. Inside is a long line. What should I do? Wait in line for 10 or 15 minutes for $2? I could take $20 out of the ATM and then…walk across the street to buy some gum to get some change? Argh. Why does everything have to be so complicated? Anyway, that’s what I did.
I re-park the car. My colleague is already seated. Just got here. Me too. Last time, I was encouraged to order the cheap breakfast but this time he says, “They have great eggs Benedict here.” Sweet, no, awesome. I am an eggs Benedict connoisseur. It’s my favorite. Life is grand. What are you doing this afternoon? Me, meh not much. Did you want to see my new apartment? Um, sure. It’s on the 23rd floor. Cool. I love a good view.
Nice place. Beach Avenue. Up some stairs and an apt whale tail sculpture rises from the landing, in the distance, the blue waters of English Bay. Elevators seem dated but well cared for. Up and up to the 23rd floor. My heart is racing.
Come in, come in, don’t mind the mess. Just moved in. Spacious. Outside, the wind is howling. There is a wind warning. We are up high. I feel jittery. Maybe it was the cappuccino. Those are big cups. Look at this view! Whoa, don’t get too close. I am experiencing vertigo, in a big way. My legs feel like jelly. Hmm. I’ve always loved a view but…
You’re not afraid of heights? Me, no. No really, it feels like the room is spinning. Want to have a cigarette on the balcony? Oh god, no. But we do. I feel like I am about to fall off a building from the 23rd floor. The balcony is three feet deep and 12 feet long and feels like it is going to drop out from underneath me. Casually, I keep my back to the wall while we have a quick smoke. The balcony is made of concrete, it’s not going anywhere, I tell myself. I’m fighting a morbid wave of impending doom. I must get off this balcony. It feels like panic. I try to make small talk.
Inside. Good. Sit down, sit down. I just need to make a couple of calls, do you mind? No go ahead. Doctor appointment, television on low. Wind howling. I must get out of here. What if there is an earthquake? I would never survive. Relax, stay a couple of minutes. Go shopping later maybe. Pick up a few things. Everything will be fine. But everything is not fine. I achingly wait out a few minutes. I should go. Thank you so much for breakfast.
I want to run to the elevator but that would be silly. I want to press the 70s elevator down button repeatedly but that would be silly too. Hurry up! I get in the elevator and it’s almost worse. What if there is an earthquake and I am in this elevator? The door closes and I am on my way down. Okay. Okay. Everything will be fine. Five floors down, the elevator jerks to a stop.
I want to scream. What if I am stuck here? The door opens. A well-dressed woman steps in. Smiles. I smile back, weakly. She presses the L button, then Door Close. She lives here, clearly. Okay, now we are on our way down. It will be alright. Somehow, I would survive if I was stuck in this elevator, waiting for help, with this woman. We speed to the ground. Breathe deeply.
In the fresh air outside I take a few more breaths. I need a cigarette.
Everything is fine now, a couple of days later. I still don’t understand what happened. Maybe it was an isolated incident. I’ll keep you posted.