To the Girl Going to Floor Eight,
I want to apologize for addressing you so strangely. You see, I don’t know your name. You never told me. You never said anything to me, actually. All I know about you is the day we shared this elevator, you hit the eighth button.
On the surface, we were only strangers sharing a moving box, traveling from one point to another. And yet, somehow, in a few silent moments, you saved me.
I don’t live in this building. The night I came here, the 28th of May, I went to a friend of a friend’s cousin’s party on the twelfth floor. I drank good liquor. I kissed pretty girls. I felt completely empty.
It’s not the first time I’ve done this. It’s a pretty usual cycle – feel sad, drink to feel better, feel worse about drinking, drink some more to feel better about that.
Mid-party, around 10 p.m., I decided I was going to leave. I had to break the cycle somehow, you know? I was losing my mind. So I took the elevator all the way down to the lobby.
For some reason, I couldn’t leave this stupid building. Leaving this building represented quitting drinking, which scared me to death, so I stayed. I just sat myself down in a lobby chair for a solid hour, pretending it was completely natural for me to be here flipping through crinkled magazines.
I thought I couldn’t quit. I thought I’d fail. I couldn’t bear fail something else, you know? I just failed the bar exam for law school. I failed my brother the day before by being late to his kid’s baptism. I failed my girlfriend by cheating on her.
So I decided quitting life would be better than quitting drinking and failing. Numbly, I pressed the elevator button and decided I would go to the roof, hop and just end it all.
But someone came in with me. You. You, with your vibrant pink-streaked blonde hair and red lipstick. You, with your flowing, colorful sundress. You, with your confident walk. You, with your real smile. You.
You just had an air to you, like you knew you were special, but you weren’t cocky about it. You knew you were a bit strange, but you weren’t ashamed about it. You wanted to be nothing but you, and you didn’t care about anything else.
You’ve probably done something wrong, I suppose, because you’re human. But I didn’t see that. I didn’t see the pain that weighs on everyone else’s minds, with their heavy shoulders and drooping eyes. You had forgiven yourself of anything wrong you’ve done. You didn’t let that hold you back; you didn’t let that make you sad. You were happy. You were the happiest person I’ve ever seen.
When you got off on the eighth floor, I was only a few floors away from the roof. But when I got there, I thought, if she can be so content, why can’t I let myself be happy? Why was I just chasing sadness – the drinking, the empty parties, and this suicide?
So I got in the elevator again. I rode it to the lobby. I walked straight out of this building, with my head a little higher than before. On the taxi ride home, I joined an AA meeting on my phone. I’m not perfect. I’m not as happy as you are, but I’m getting better.
I wanted to thank you, but I didn’t know how to contact you. I’m sorry if leaving a letter tapped to the elevator is obnoxious. I’m sorry if I embarrass you, but I needed to thank you.
So, thank you.
The Man No Longer Going to the Roof