Two at a Time

In elementary school, walking up the stairs one at a time showed weakness. I can't pinpoint exactly when, but I'd estimate it began either in the third or fourth grade. We'd race up the daunting steps, and I'd hold the handrail to pull myself up. A few years later, the accomplishment seemed minor when I visited that school again and saw how low each step was. By the time I was a teenager, I could take those three at a time.

In middle school, the challenge increased. Not only did we have to climb bigger stairs a minimum of two steps at a time, but going down we had to leap and skip the last few steps. It wasn't exactly Parkour, the French sport of free running in which guys leap across roof tops and bound over staircases and off of walls, but I'm sure they had to start somewhere. You've probably seen Parkour in sneaker commercials, and it also plays a prominent role in the movie B13(not to be confused with B13, who loaned me the DVD).

My friends and I became very competitive in between classes. If someone leapt from the fourth step, I'd leap from the fifth. It's hard to believe that this chunky little boy once reached a point where he could bound down an entire landing of about nine steps, but I think kids are made of different material than adults. Bones are softer, muscles are more resilient, and a sense of immortality removes any hesitation. Many times I landed the wrong way, certain I'd twisted my ankle, and that slowed me down a bit before the pain subsided or was forgotten. Soon I was grabbing handrails and kicking off into the air. The best part was the acoustics, and I loved the resultant “THOOOOOM!!” when I hit each landing. My teachers weren't as thrilled.

Old habits die hard. I find it impossible to walk up any staircase now, one step at a time. They're too close together, and even on level ground I take wider steps, despite having short legs. I'm also impatient, and most mornings avoid the elevator, subconsciously racing it if I see anyone going up as I cut over to the stairwell. I feel a sense of (worthless) satisfaction if I arrive at the third floor before people in the elevator, fighting a smirk as I catch my breath.

Even in my work itself, at least after I graduated college, I used to multitask and work on two or three computers at a time. Back then, the machines were slower, so while one was busy printing and another was saving to a clunky old SyQuest drive, I'd wheel my chair over to a third computer to scan in photographs, naturally a batch at a time. These days, I only have one computer in my cubicle, but the machine itself can do multiple tasks and I can tab between applications as each one saves, prints, or performs some other function. The technology is better, but I'm worse. A few meetings here, a few distractions there, and an extra project looming, and in the course of a week I can go from being ahead to falling behind.

“Palavering Platanos! You're still at work??” It was a Standard Inquiry that popped up on my screen from my friend Rey, calling attention to the time. I was oblivious to the fact that it was after seven on a Friday night. Had it only been a week since I was laughing in a bar with coworkers? The scary thing is, as late as it was, I had somehow only designed half an issue. I had to let it go for next week, and accept that I can't apply the “two at a time” rule to everything. Exhausted, I grabbed my gym bag, and trudged to the elevators. The gym was closed, and I was too tired to take the stairs. Sometimes though, when no one is around after work, I still bound down the stairwell and revel in the “THOOOOOM!”s. I haven't broken anything yet, despite carrying extra weight in my bag(and in general). Leaping with a sack full of textbooks in high school prepared me. Being airborne, or rapidly ascending stairs, makes me feel like a kid again, just for a little while. It's really immature, especially since I should know better, know how I could get hurt. I'm impatient though, and in my mind still competing against the ghosts of my past. I've won a lot of races when no one else was around.


Blogger b13 said...

As a child I always felt like I could float down the flight of stairs...spirit like...to my basement. Recently I have heard similar stories from others describing their youth. I don't remember touching the railings, but I would ever so slightly "skim" the steps and at times felt as though I truly floated down. To this day I can not know for certain how I did it.

10/14/2006 6:26 PM  
Blogger Otis said...

That really brought back memories. I was always the tallest person in my class. I would grab both rails and swing myself up in the air and clear all the steps.

Not sure how many steps it was, but it made me feel like I was the man. I didn't go to school with Darrell but I imagine he rolled down the stairs.

10/14/2006 10:05 PM  
Blogger Kev said...

I remember one day in maybe 4th grade, for some reason, me a couple of other guys stayed after school, and we had races up and down the stairs. DOWN the stairs - to this day, I can't believe we ran down the stairs at brake-neck speeds skipping 3 or more stairs at a time.
Heck, nowadays, I make sure I'm holding the railing going down, because I'm sure I'll trip over my own feet and fall down the stairs...
Up the stairs, I'll still take steps 2 at a time occasionally if the flight is short.

10/14/2006 10:39 PM  
Blogger Rey said...

"Palavering Platanos!"?!?!?

10/15/2006 3:18 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

It was something to that effect. I didn't save the conversation, so I paraphrased/guessed what exclamation you must/might have used. =)

10/15/2006 6:18 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

Also, imagine the line as read by Fenton Crackshell, as I did, to truly appreciate the wordsmithery.

10/15/2006 6:27 PM  

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