I always run up the stairs at my parents’ house on all fours. Even today. For starters, it’s covered in blue carpet that invites squeezing, which is one of several things I am able to do with my hands. And, because you’re probably now wondering, other hand skills include playing guitar, coarsely tearing sensitive documents in the absence of an actual shredder, and tying up a poop bag with one hand while the other hand pulls my dog away from a meatball sub abandoned on the sidewalk.
I’m convinced that the staircase in my childhood home is steeper than most, so I like having the added stability of leaning forward on my palms to accelerate my ascent. Some might argue that a railing serves a similar purpose, and those people would be right. However, I’m not sure we always had a railing, so maybe my unique form emerged as a practical solution to a design problem.
The staircase at my parents’ is not one of those luxurious staircases that you walk-and-talk up with guests at your recurring in-home wine tastings. It’s more like a broken down escalator out of a train station at rush hour－one of the skinny ones, where you can’t pass anyone to the left or right.
So, like I’ve been saying, I always use all limbs to shimmy up to the second floor and have never felt too dignified to modify my approach. In my view, the stairs were solely built as a quick, direct route to homework, sleep, or my all time favorite pastime, kicking my door.
I loved to kick my door, even when I hated the circumstances that led me to kick it in the first place. The great thing about kicking my door was that no one could stop me from doing it. Everyone else was on the other side of the door, you see, and my kicks prevented them from opening it. So, I kicked and kicked and kicked. I also cried. That felt good too.
Like clockwork, ten minutes in, my mother or my father would pound on the other side of the door and say something like, “You better stop kicking that door!” But what could they do about it? Nothing. Therefore, I persisted.
At some point, there was an attempt to use the doorknob to open the door. If only there had been a lock, this would have been no problem. However, as we’ve discussed, the house has suffered a history of architectural failings. But it dawned on me that if they couldn’t turn the knob, they couldn’t open the door. So I fixed that too. I would hold the doorknob completely still as my family attempted in vain to pry me out of my sanctuary. Then when I heard them groan and then fail to stomp down our fluffy staircase, I resumed my kicking with gusto.
Like a lot of kids, I felt misunderstood, by my family mostly. I was creative and energetic, and people liked it, but they only wanted it to manifest in a way that felt reasonable to them. More and more, “reasonable” seemed a lot like being quiet and not having any interests or opinions.
I really tried to live up to that standard, holding things all the way in. I became super quiet in school. There were a few weeks in Spanish class where I tried to control the volume of my breathing. Not the quantity, but the actual decibel level of my breaths.
Every so often, though, the dam would break. My body couldn’t hold me in anymore. And when I got into one of those moods, there was only one thing for me to do: Race upstairs and kick the daylights out of my bedroom door.
Eventually, I joined the drama club, which is as close to door kicking as any extracurricular I’ve tried. The literal door kicking died down, and instead of holding my ground on the other side of a door, in college I talked my mother down over a pink Motorola Razr. Instead of kicking, I explained that I would be majoring in English with a concentration in Poetry Writing and that no I would not also minor in Math because I couldn’t wrap my head around seven-dimensional space I tried taking the class twice and it’s not going to happen sorry.
To its credit, my bedroom door still stands to this day. I will not say that I didn’t break a different door by kicking it because I did do that and the fact that the pane of glass remains broken to this day is not a reflection on me at 9 years of age and is, again, a characteristic defect of the house itself. We found a workaround, packing tape, and are moving along as a family.