A few weeks ago, a friend of mine ended up in the hospital. I went to visit him at one of the popular Boston hospitals, and I asked my fiancé, Jason, to accompany me. My sister, Holly, also came with us. I have been in somewhat of a ‘Nervous-Nelly’ funk with anything associated with Boston, including driving and visiting. I have too many memories and associations of Boston what I wish to keep in my past. I have avoided any and all situations of being in the city for nearly 3 years. So far, I was successful.
However, I am absolutely aware of how absurd and debilitating this has been for me in a social sense. I have been thinking and decided to make the slow and steady change to step out of my comfort zone, (baby steps of course): that cushiony, safe, and controlled environment that I worked so hard to maintain.
I thought about all of the invites I declined, all of the thoroughly thought out excuses and rationalizations I created, and truthfully, I recently recognized how much of a small person I had become. It was time to take baby steps. Move up and out of the safety net.
The day of the hospital visit, I made it very clear that I was going to drive into the city--something I hadn’t done in a very long time. I was pretty nervous as one could imagine, but I did it. I even opted to park in the garage, (I used to have Jason drop me off in front of the Cheesecake Factory while he parked...I tend to feel uneasy and claustrophobic amidst holiday traffic in the mall). This was going to be a big day!
Everything went off without a hitch as we entered our friend’s hospital room and chatted it up, hoping to bring some light and comfort to his uneasy situation. Jason and I hadn’t eaten and decided to get something at one of the restaurants on campus. My sister stayed with our friend but asked us to bring her something to eat on our way back.
Lunch was delicious with great service, burgers and fries, and it was that slow period in any restaurant; right after the lunch rush but before dinner. Ironically, our server was named Jason and the bartender was named Heidi. Weird right!?
We had a great time, ordered Holly’s food, and headed back to the hospital. We hit the button on the elevator to the 7th floor. I think it took us to at least the 6th floor before I realized what was happening. Suddenly, the elevator started going down. It stopped with a thud at floor 4. It startled me and Jason. I began to panic. It started to go back up but stopped with a thud again, then took us back down to floor 3; the doors never opened. At this pointed I had latched onto Jason for dear life, who was now holding onto the side rails, (now I understand why those exist). The elevator did this at least 2 more times. During our little ride, Holly called wondering where we were for she was getting hungry and was eagerly awaiting her food that we ordered. “Holly, ohmygod! We’re stuck in the f***ing elevator,” I was hysterical. Jason at this point was reminding me to hold onto the handrails, I was in the middle of the floor gripping her bag of food and my phone, alternating hands to push the emergency button and calling for help. The very first button I pushed, I failed to realize wasn’t a button at all! When I didn’t get the feedback from the malfunctioning ‘button,’ I started calling out for help in a way that started off very quiet, then escalated as I finished off the word. More like ‘HhhhhheeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I sounded like a cat meowing at its predator. I won’t even begin to tell you what I physiologically experiencing. I was your textbook definition of panic. At one point I thought, “If we needed to survive in here for a few days, at least we can ration Holly’s food I was still holding.”
I’m not sure if I hung up on Holly at a certain point after screaming “Get us out of here!” but just as I convinced myself that I’d definitely be dying that very moment, the elevator dropped us at floor 7 and the doors slowly began to slide open. I helped the doors along by pushing them into their pockets; I was getting of there!
I was clearly traumatized, shaking, and swearing all sorts of obscenities without any concept of my audience around me. To those waiting to board the elevator, I said, “Don’t get on that elevator! We were stuck in that f***ing thing! Jesus Christ, fix your goddamn elevators, you f***ing wealthy ass hospital!” I was on a roll.
Looking back I learned so many things from the events that occurred that day:
Being (this) fearful was necessary to gain confidence for the sheer fact that I survived it and I can survive other unexpected things. Not only am I determined and excited to go back and drive into Boston, but I’ve also made sure to push myself to ride at least 3 different elevators in the 2 weeks following the incident. I may not be graceful about it at first, but I owned that fear and gained strength, (and maybe even some valuable survival techniques for the zombie apocalypse).