The Pivot

This is the stairwell between the first floor of my hospital and the basement, the route that leads to the cafeteria. In 20 years, I’ve been down these stairs thousands of times. They get repainted every few years and the non-skid safety strips are checked and replaced. This stairwell is mostly used by staff, so it’s not the prettiest–all fluorescent lights and workaday beige.

Maybe it was because I’ve been so contemplative lately, or maybe just that I was walking to lunch alone instead of talking to a friend, but today I had to stop and….stare. Notice anything?

It's OK to stair.

It’s OK to stair.

Every bottom stair has a worn out place. Why is that ONE SPOT worn away when the rest of the stairs are fine?

Couple of reasons:

It’s the lowest point. No matter if you start out at the top of the stairs walking to the left or right, if you’re in a crowd or alone, if you stop to hold the door for others, by the time you get to that lowest step, you’re in single file. Nobody’s swinging wide to go around a blind corner. Like cows in a chute, we arrange ourselves into an orderly pace and space to take that corner. We draw closer to the wall, to make ourselves safe from whatever might be barreling around the blind turn. Or we make ourselves small to keep from barreling around the corner.

It’s the spot where you pivot. Halfway down the stairwell, you have to switchback. One hundred and eighty degree turn in the opposite direction. Our graceful bodies teeter on that narrow bottom step, then without even thinking about it, all our weight shifts onto the ball of the foot and with an elegant little swing of the hips we change direction. But pivoting our entire body weight on about a 1-inch spot in the sole creates a lot of pressure. It’s far more pressure to change the direction in which we’re moving.

Everybody’s doing it. Every foot that takes those stairs hits THAT spot. Over a few weeks, hundreds of thousands of feet use that stairwell and because we are creatures of habit, every foot hits that spot. THAT SPOT. The total surface area of the stairs is irrelevant, because not every square inch is used equally. It’s that ONE SPOT that takes the beating.

And I guess I had to stop myself from crying in the stairwell because that little worn-out spot called to me. We have so much in common right now, that little spot and me. I’ve been at my lowest for the last few months, clinging to the wall and hesitant about going around the corner. Life is forcing me to pivot. I’m going in one direction then BAM…a 180 is required. And it seems that everybody’s doing that. Raise your hand if you’re feeling ground down and a little dizzy from the switching back and forth.

Even with 195 drafts in my folder, I couldn’t bring myself to write for an entire month. And this story right here might be in the bottom 10% of my output over the last four years. Look at that photo…terrible! How am I going to SEO this post about hospital basement linoleum and depression?

I tried to learn more about the idea behind the worn out pivot, but that led me down a rabbit hole of Newtonian mechanics and Pinterest boards for best patterned carpets to hide wear on your stairs.

So this drab picture of a scuffed up spot on a basement stairwell is what I’ve got for today. I wrote about it because it made me feel something. If you’ve read this far, please accept my apologies. I’m sorry that I made you read this drivel, and I’m even more sorry that I haven’t trusted you with the stuff that’s clanging around in my head. But here we are at the bottom, so it’s time to pivot.

See you soon.




14 thoughts on “The Pivot

  1. Karen Tatum

    I don’t know…you always seem to reappear when others (okay me) are feeling like worn out spots. I am glad you shared and I hope you figure out the things clanging in your head.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Thanks, Karen! Let’s get some of that crap out of the mind to make room for peace and power.

  2. Lisa in Athens

    I know the point of your post was to make folks think and maybe commiserate (it did as you’re a good soul and deserve some warm mental hugs from across the city) but the title made me remember the episode of Friends with Ross yelling “PIVOT!” repeatedly.
    I hope your pivot takes you places that make you smile a bit more.

    1. Chris Antenen

      Lisa, I remember Ross and his ‘Pivot!’ Weren’t they trying to carry a couch up some stairs? As for Friends, after the election, I spent the next week + watching all ten seasons of Friends on Netflix. I still go back to season 8 or10 for a ‘Friends’ fix. There has been no pivoting allowed so far, but I’m hopeful., Ashley doesn’t have time to do that, but I know she’ll be strong again soon, because I know her heart. I chased a two-year-old when I could barely hold up my head. It’s really hard. I’m pulling for you Ashley.

  3. Michelle G

    Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. 😉 We love your stories, and you– even if they’re not perfect or polished.
    You are enough, and your writing speaks to us, even when it’s not what you may think of as profound. 🙂
    Just keep writing!

  4. joanne

    Just write, Ashley. I’m here for your voice, not just to be amused by your witty repartee. I was glad to see a post as I was concerned by your silence after your last entry. Maybe it will help lift you to share your struggle with your readers. Maybe not, but that’s okay, too.
    Be kind to yourself, hell, pamper yourself! Something as superficial as a manicure can sometimes give one a lift. Easy does it, dear lady, we’re here for you.

  5. Lisa Hall

    We have never met. I started reading your blog because of a friend who knows you. I have consistently marvelled at your strength and insight over the years. The only part of this article I did not like eas your apology. To find meaning in a pivot point on a stair step is a gift, not drivel. Thank you for sharing it.


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