It's not often that people use the word literally correctly.
They might say, "I was literally freezing to death," and you think, "Really?" or perhaps, "I was literally at the end of my rope," and you wonder, "What rope"?
I am happy, therefore, to have this opportunity to use the word correctly, because I am literally talking about steps.
Going up or down without a handrail has remained a challenge. I thought of this over the weekend when I was at a graduation party at a house with two steep steps – with no handrail – leading to the deck. I probably could have ventured up, but instead I asked for an arm, just to be sure.
During my trip last year to visit my cousins in the San Francisco area, I was happy to successfully climb the 378 steps (plus or minus) to the landmark Coit Tower. Luckily there were handrails most
of the way up, and for the other parts, one of my cousins offered an arm.
I haven't actually tripped down a flight of stairs, although I did actually trip up the stairs in the Paris Metro after having the fool-hardy urge to catch an incoming train. I bellyflopped onto the train, scaring the living daylights out of Katie and earning a shocked look from the Parisian at whose feet I had landed.
Knowing my tendency to fall (which I haven't done lately, knock wood), Joe once reprimanded me for throwing a pair of sneakers down the stairs when my arms were otherwise full. He was afraid that the clamor had been me.
The New York subway, which I plan to take during my visit to the city next weekend, is not the easiest place to need a handrail, because sometimes you have to push your way through to get to the side.
But the stairs leading up to the post office in Holyoke are just right. I had to be in Holyoke for something else, and I decided to go to the post office there rather than in South Hadley, because for some unfathomable reason, easy access to the entrance was eliminated during a highway widening project some years ago.
Rather than go to one side or another so I could use the handrail, I walked up the seven or eight stairs in the middle. I kept my balance. I walked up without tripping, and I walked down trippingly.
Literally, a success.