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Fancy Elevators

By , Plymouth, MN
I stood on the fiftieth floor of the IDS tower and stared out one of the dozens of floor-to-ceiling windows at the downtown laid out below me in a neat little grid, breathing in the sweet smell of the flowers that hung everywhere. Fear, anxiety, excitement, love, and maybe some nostalgia, were all running through me all at once, clashing and crashing into each other. I felt the familiar butterflies in my stomach and sweaty hands that I get right before a piano recital as I smashed my face against the glass so I could see the balloon of the Metrodome in the distance.

Hours before, when we stepped into the lush, shiny elevators, as nice as the interior of a fancy car, I had closed my eyes and felt exactly like I was taking off in a plane. The butterflies had fluttered around my stomach and my ears popped as we climbed higher and higher. The elevator didn’t even have buttons for the first 30 floors. When I thought we would be in the elevator all day, creeping up the building, the numbers finally changed to 50 and the doors slid open onto a spacious beautiful room with a shiny, black grand piano in the corner, and walls of eleven-foot windows.

The day had been a blur. But I had loved my first time in a limo; loved the looks people gave us as our wedding party trooped loudly into the elevators with our hair curled and pinned.

And I had hated not knowing what was going to happen, and I hated change.

I remember as I waited with my dad and sister for everyone to take their seats, and the wedding to start, that people kept introducing themselves and saying hello. The main thought running continuously through my head that day was hmm, umm, okay, pretty sure I don’t’ know you. I did a lot of waiting throughout the day. Waiting to get my hair done. Waiting for the limo to come. Waiting for the ceremony to start. Waiting for them to track down my dad, the groom, when they realized they accidentally left him sitting in a hotel room for hours. Worst of all was waiting in the receiving line for two hours as countless strangers came through the line, laughing, joking, hugging, and shaking our hands. The select few I did recognize looked so different dressed up that I almost grouped them in with the strangers.
The wedding wasn’t traditional by any means, but it was beautiful, like nothing I’ve ever seen. No flower girls, no bridesmaids, no “here comes the bride”. My sister and I, and my new stepsiblings, were to walk our respective parents down the aisle, and “give them away” when it became time. I didn’t have the best of luck with the walking down the soft, red-carped aisle. It sounds easy enough but sometimes the simplest things can cause the most trouble. My older sister was walking a little too close to the middle of the aisle, so my dad was traveling down more of the edge than the middle where he should have been. I was walking half-behind them, getting towed along for the ride, bumping into a few chairs as we passed. I got a few sympathetic smiles, making me uncomfortable. My sister didn’t seem to notice my predicament. Moments later as the bride, Jennifer, made her way to the altar, she stopped to greet people, say hi to friends, and laugh with the guests, as I sat smiling in my champagne colored dress, clutching my bouquet, and watching my dad who stood proudly in front of us waiting for her.

The sky beyond the walls of glass panes grew dark and the city began to light up, while dinner moved into dessert, and then dessert moved into the dance. My dad and Jennifer didn’t even get to taste the dessert they had spent so long picking out because they were too busy socializing with the guests. Later they joked, “I guess we’ll have to do it all again” and then gave a panicked look as they recalled all of the stress that would mean repeating. My new stepsister Avery attends the University of Wisconsin and my dad went to rival University of Michigan, so my dad arranged to have the Michigan fight song played at the dance and to hand out blue and maize pom-poms to the guests as a little “surprise” for her. But before that, the newlyweds had to have the first dance, which they had been taking dance lessons in preparation for. I was blown away that my dad would dance, much less take dance lessons—dancing never used to be his thing.

I am amazed now to think of how much happened and how much my life changed between the hours of eight in the morning, and two a.m. the next morning—between an elevator ride up and an elevator ride down. The wedding was all kinds of fun, and all kinds of chaos. However, the highlight of the night came around midnight. Jennifer’s friend Jennifer’s friend, Ali, tried to convince me to dance and I refused. I didn’t know how, and I felt awkward. My dad found me along the side of the room a few minutes later and pulled me out to dance with him. I had a stupidly big grin across my face as he danced me around the floor. I never had danced with a good dancer before. I had never danced with my dad before. I had never felt as close to him as I had in that moment. Every disagreement, every bit of resentment towards him for not being there when we grew up, every unanswered question didn’t matter as we tore up the dance floor for a few numbers.

I had been back and forth all day, between having fun, and feeling terrified. It was an incredible wedding. And yet I didn’t know what it meant for my family and for me. I had a stepbrother I had only met once before. I had a new cat living in my home. However, there’s always a “but”. I never realized that for my whole life up to those moments, I had been waiting for “something” I was missing, that I finally found while my dad and I made fools of ourselves on the shiny wooden dance floor along with the rest of Jennifer’s crazy family.

And I was unprepared for that rush of love so powerful and unexpected as I danced with my dad. I found myself choked up when I said goodnight to him and Jennifer and took the long fancy-elevator ride back down from the fiftieth floor of the IDS tower. Sometimes you don’t realize something was lost until you’ve found it.





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