Sunday, August 19, 2007

When I was 13, my parents flew the whole family from Chicago to the West Coast of the U.S. for a holiday, where we spent three weeks travelling, starting in San Francisco (where I saw my first drag queen, in a green-sequined evening gown at 7 a.m. at a donut shop, and I didn't even realize she was a man until my sister told me) and ending up in Bellingham and briefly, Vancouver.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting family friends, who lived in a house in Portland, Oregon that had almost everything I ever would have wanted in a house: front and back stairs, a secret room behind a set of sliding bookcases, and a dumbwaiter.

The only thing missing was an elevator.

Of course now I live in an apartment building with a tiny elevator big enough for four people at the most, as old as the building itself - 100 years - with a gate that you pull shut, and wooden panelling, a mirror, and little leather seats that fold down if you feel faint on your way up to your apartment and simply must sit down.

Some people find old elevators a bit scary, worried that they'll break down and leave you stuck between floors.

They don't worry me. I love them. I feel like I'm in an old movie.

The only thing missing is a little old man in a cap at the controls, who doesn't even have to ask me which floor because he already knows.

The Swedish word for the day is hiss, which is Swedish for elevator, of course.

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