MY FEAR OF ESCALATORS

  1. It must have been summer because I was wearing a dress that bared my legs.
  2. I was six or seven years old and following my parents around a three-tiered department store like an imprinted duckling.
  3. The floors were connected by escalators. I stared at the moving metal steps. They looked cold, sharp, and unforgiving.
  4. Dad got on and slowly disappeared upward. Mom stayed next to me, holding my hand. She slowly lifted her leg as if to demonstrate this simple task and departed from solid ground. I froze.
  5. A chase scene with men shooting guns and falling down escalators. Impressionable me at some big family gathering, stuck in the basement with the older kids, watching Carlito's Way for the first time.
  6. My legs were cemented to the ground, but I kept my grip on my mother who had already ascended.
  7. Next thing I knew I was bleeding and sobbing in the shoes section.
  8. Instead of bringing over strappy sandals and polished oxfords, employees ran over with a dusty first aid kit and paper towels hastily grabbed from the restroom.
  9. There was blood everywhere. Who knew you could bleed out of your shin that much?
  10. I felt equal parts pain and embarrassment. This was the wrong place to bleed and cry. This was the nice part of the store where ladies tried on Louboutins.
  11. My seven-year old self was not yet privy to designer names - I only know now that I was wailing among a selection of high-end French footwear because the red of the soles were ingrained into my memory that day. They were the exact red that oozed out of my leg.
  12. If you're with me by an escalator today, you might notice that I still linger for a second before getting on and then jump off like a late person trying to catch the last train.
  13. The least terrifying escalators are the ones you take out of the Columbus Circle Whole Foods. It's calming, actually - what ascending to heaven must feel like.
  14. The worst ones are in the Prague Metro. They stretch on for miles and are so steep that looking neither up nor down at your shoes will prevent a panic attack.
  15. I've never gotten over my fear of escalators though I have to confront them often.
  16. The appeal of designer shoes, however, has never been lost on me.