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Stair in Defeat
OF COURSE, WHEN you’re moving all your stuff down the stairs when you’re moving IN, it almost doesn’t matter. Indeed, if you must wrestle a deep freezer along a narrow staircase into your apartment, down is way better than up. Put in easygoing terms, a basement flat scales the top-floor. Gravity is even helpful, going down. Yes, the penthouse has the view, but, when all you’re looking at is the underside of a mahogany chest-of-drawers you have to manhandle on your own chest-of-bones either up or down stairs, downstairs wins hands-down, every time; and if you’re on a hillside, your “down-the-stairs” flat still has a great view.
All the time you’re in occupation of your “downstairs” apartment, you’re happy. Every fortnight, when you’re coasting down 39 steps carrying two cases of beer, you don’t just sing the praises of having a parking space higher than your apartment, you firetrucking yodel them!
Even when you’re struggling to negotiate that tight right-hand bend with the chip on the edge, which you can’t see properly, because the beer-cases are blocking your view of your feet, you can console yourself with the thought that the cases will be empty going back up, and you can swing one in either hand and take stair risers, not just in your stride, but two at a time!
Moving into a “downstairs” flat is a breeze.
Staying in one with a view is pure luxury.
Try moving out, nuh.
That massive Samsung French doors fridge/freezer that tells you the news headlines in Homer Simpson’s voice while dispensing your crushed ice doesn’t seem so important after all, now you have to take it back up those stairs. You paid five figures for it but you’ll give it to the new tenant/purchaser for three and convince yourself you needed to upgrade anyway. (This time, don’t bother so much with a fridge that can speed-chill your vodka in five minutes and try to get one that can walk on its own.)
Add a right-hand, 90-degree turn to your staircase, followed one-and-a-half strides later, by a left-hand, 90-degree turn, and, going up them, 39 stairs turns into 39 lashes.
Add four years in-between moving in and moving out and you find that, what you skipped downstairs with chirpily when you were 56 seems like the stone of Sissyphus when you’re 60 and trying to roll that shiretrit upstairs.
You only have to think about carrying an overstuffed leather couch up those stairs and you’re sweating like a White House press secretary at a media briefing.
You also can’t pack right for 39 steps up from your front door to your car trunk: no matter how much you try to think outside the box, you can’t avoid carrying it in your arms. And, after only 20 steps up with a heavy cardboard box, your sweat is going to be affecting the box like domestic violence or alcoholism affects a family. You could have Muhammad Ali’s ringside team in your kitchen wiping you down in-between rounds but, no matter how hard they work, your cardboard box will arrive at the car damp around the edges, because you will yourself be soaked. You need Michael Jackson or Rihanna’s costume-changing team, working faster than the McLaren pit stop crew, to keep you dry enough to lift two boxes in succession.
Add bright sunshine and an uncovered parking lot and packing cardboard boxes of kitchen utensils into a Nissan Tiida is like loading water balloons in the rain. With your hands. You find yourself thinking that the only solution might be a work crew from the Blind Institute who could work in the cool of night.
Moving out of a flat with a parking space above it – 39 steep stairs above it, with two right-angled bends – is very similar to recovering from heart surgery, in the sense that you have a lot of time to stop and consider whether you really made the right decisions when you were, e.g., eating all that fried pork or choosing a 70-inch TV.
You also have a lot of time to consider the similarities between your choices of residence and of governments.
Living in Trinidad is like living in an apartment 39 steps below your parking space and having to move out every day.
To which I will turn two Fridays from today, after my birthday column next week.
BC Pires is preying for God.