At least twice a year, my parents would brave the turbulent mountain pass between Montana and Washington to drive me to doctor appointments at a non-profit Children’s Hospital in Spokane. I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy as baby, and with my parents struggling to pay bills; the hospital had become a blessing.
As an adult now, I realize how it must have been quite the hassle to take the only two days off you have from working full-time jobs to pack up both your children to drive two states away for an appointment that usually only lasts an hour or so. My parents made the best out of it, treating the trips as mini-vacations. My favorite thing about travelling was counting all of the things Spokane had compared to our little town. Not only did they have a mall with four different floors, but also there was TWO OF THEM! They had all the restaurants we saw in commercials when watching cable television, even that one that famously served unlimited buttery pieces of bread in stick form.
During one trip, the hospital had made a reservation at a motel that was as big as the Sears Tower (in my ten year old eyes). When we walked the through the lobby to get to our rooms, we were faced with a large pool, the motel rooms seemingly built around it. The most mesmerizing thing was the lack of roof above the pool. It was the coolest thing my older brother Brandon and I had ever seen. My parents were not as impressed; not understanding the choice of architecture in a place that regularly snows in winter. My father called after us, as they waited for the elevator doors to open. No doubt I was easily amused, now turning my attention on the shiny silver elevator with ALL THOSE BUTTONS! I wanted to continue to ride it to the very top, but was disappointed when my parents stepped out at the twelfth floor. Later with my belly full of pizza, I fell asleep to the sounds of my family playing their usual dice game as the local news report blared in the background.
I awoke up in the middle of the night to find my Mom and Dad passed out in the bed next to me. My dad’s abnormally loud snoring kept me from drifting back to sleep. My brother still awake, sat on the floor watching some old movie with talking monkeys who dressed like humans. I moved my way down to the edge of the bed only for him to ask “What are you doing up?” I shrugged my shoulders and simply said, “Dad.” He chuckled and returned his attention to the TV. After a couple of minutes of watching and not understanding my brother’s choice in movies, I whined that I was bored and wanted to go ride the elevators. (As if it was some sort of amusement park attraction.) Brandon, who was supposed to be the more rational one (being a whole three years old), agreed to take me, but only on the condition that I listen to him.
We fumbled to find our shoes in the darkness, attempting to be as stealthy as children could be. Outside the florescent lights above the room doors made it seem like it was still daytime. We ran towards the shiny elevator doors, free from our parents, free from the world.
We rode up and down the elevator for what seemed like hours, stepping out at each new floor, only to jump back in before the doors closed. Eventually the excitement started to fade. At the fifth floor, my brother decided it would be hilarious to leave me. A wave a panic hit when the doors closed before I could get in, the doors quickly opened again to reveal my brother practically on the floor from laughing so much. I shed a tear, mostly to make him feel bad. It didn’t work.
On a whim, he decided press the “L2” button, which lead to a level below where the pool and front desk were located. It was darker then the other floors, my brother slowly stepped out and turned the corner while I didn’t dare leave the brightly lit elevator. Instead, an idea flooded my head. I took a breath and mustered enough courage to seek my revenge. The doors closed before he could get back in, and I rode the elevator alone to the pool level. That’s what you get for messing with me, I thought to myself.
My brother must of hit the up button on his floor because the elevator started to make its way back down without any help from me. At the last minute, I decided I would pop out when the doors opened and scare him. I thought if I was successful in scaring him, it would make him think twice before messing with me again. As the doors slowly pushed open, I jumped out towards the middle of the elevator and let out a huge growl. Only the person waiting was not my brother, but a youngish looking man with a scraggly beard and a basket full of clothes. He let out a strange noise, but started to chuckle when he realized he was startled by a small child. I quickly retreated to the farthest corner away from the stranger and refused to make eye contact, looking down at my feet until we had reached his floor.
After the scraggly beard man left, tears started to flood my eyes as the elevator started to move on its own once again. I worried about where Brandon went. I wondered if there were more people down on “L2” and if they had decided to hold my brother hostage. The doors opened at the pool level, but there was no one there. I stepped out onto the silent floor with only my left foot. I felt a hand on my shoulder and quickly jumped back into the elevator. I heard the sound of a familiar voice calling my name before the doors closed again.
After opening the doors once again to retrieve my brother, we decided to end our elevator adventure. Back on our floor, we spot our Dad, half awake, leaning against the metal rails in front of our room. As we made our way towards him, I knew our fun was over for the night. My dad, giving his best stern look, shock his head and said, “I hope you had fun because when I tell Mom tomorrow, the rest of this trip is going to be anything but.”