The Elevator Question

11 Jul

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Dolly is, simply put, an unreal creature sent from heaven gracing our lives.

An otherworldly ethereal thing, I’m afraid to get to close to because she might disappear in a cloud of glitter.

I don’t know. Maybe there’s a more succinct way to say it. Maybe I didn’t do her justice.

Dolly is so cute that a friend told his wife, “Hey you know our cat we think is the cutest? Actually Dolly is cuter.”

TRUE STORY.

I swear.

I was there.

She has her little mannerisms, her little personality. She’s a stuffed plush toy with fur as soft of as a cloud and here she comes. Sitting next to you in the bathroom, just because.

She wants to always be near us.

I wake up in the middle of the night and she’s pressed against me. Curled under my legs. She can’t get close enough.

Our little shadow.

She only loves her bed and her mama, she’s sorry.

My Mount Rushmore is Dolly with four different expressions.

Drake himself has written about Dolly, you see.

Things change.

Dolly is proof of that.

I’ve always been wary of animals. Scared of what they might do to me. Scared of what they have done to me.

And if you’re in the same boat as I was, I want you to ask yourself a few questions.

Are the things you dislike about animals:

  1. Fear they might attack you

  2. Picking up hot poop

  3. Jumping/licking/biting/barking

  4. The smell

Well, it turns out, that dogs aren’t for you! And that’s OK.

In the immortal words of Amy Poehler, good for her, not for me.

Get yourself a cat. Preferably a 5 lb rescue thing who looks more like an anime cartoon than a real life creature.

You’ll love her and write glowing things about her.

You’ll change.

Things change, you see.

In writing school we were taught to be hard on our characters.

Put them in difficult situations. That’s where the interesting stuff comes.

One teacher talked about the elevator question.

If your character were to be stuck in an elevator for hours on end, who would they be most uncomfortable with?

Their parents?

Their ex?

The person they confessed their love to who did nothing?

GREAT!

Put them in that elevator. Make them have those conversations. Make them uncomfortable.

That’s the good stuff.

The stuff we want to read.

The elevator question is a great dinner party question. I’ve used it many, many times. Of course, you need to know your dinner party guests well if you’re going to get an honest answer.

This is a dinner party question for your closest friends. The ones you can be really vulnerable with.

And then boom.

Let it all out.

I was thinking about the elevator question recently and I had a bit of a shock.

My people have changed!

For a really long time the same few souls came up when I asked myself who I’d be most uncomfortable around. They were those of the Big Hurts, of the Unresolved Pain. For a while there, years even, the thought of being trapped in a small space with them was enough for me to run fleeing.

For you see, in life, you don’t have to put yourself in that elevator.

What makes for good story in fiction you can, and often should, protect yourself from in reality.

Boundaries and all that.

But.

Change.

I remind myself this with my current hurts. With my current elevator people. The ones who twist my stomach in knots when I imagine confronting them.

I remind myself that 10 years ago I felt this way about different people. And nothing really changed with us. Most of us didn’t get resolution or that important conversation, or, frankly, the very needed apology.

Time happened.

Time heals.

It really, really does.

Things change.

One day you have a little puff ball of a cat sleeping at your feet and you love her and you write odes to her. And you can’t wait for her to wake up so you can play together.

Things change.

Except for my love for Dolly.

That is as constant as the Northern Star.

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