Yes, a spiral staircase definitely made sense.
But—where to put it?
The great room seemed the obvious spot. Measuring in at twenty-four by twenty-six feet, it could handle a moderate-sized hole in its floor with ease.
If we put the staircase in the front corner, where the sofa and end table met, it would spiral down into the front crook of the L-shaped living space below, blocking the French doors we’d paid so much to have installed.
Putting it in the back corner, near the bathroom door, would block access to the garden door below.
Positioning it in the middle of the large back wall of the great room might work, but doing so would eliminate most of the seating area on the lower floor.
Back to the drawing board.
Putting the staircase in the bedroom didn’t make sense either. Although the bedroom was large, it wasn’t huge, and putting a four-foot wide hole in one corner of the room would definitely limit the furniture placement possibilities.
Also, who wants to have to schlep into the bedroom to go downstairs, particularly if someone else is having a private moment in there—sleeping, playing Tiddlywinks or whatever?
Finally, and most conclusively, the bedroom, which was air conditioned, was positioned squarely above the carport, which wasn’t.
We stared at each other in disbelief. Maybe the two floors weren’t meant to connect. Maybe the twain weren’t intended to meet.
I broke out the cocktail shaker.
Alcohol, I’ve discovered, can sometimes un-stop even the most log-jammed brain.
This first occurred to me the day I moved to D.C. fifteen years ago.
I had bought a new bed for myself, a large, metal, canopied contraption with at least forty or fifty parts. I laid out the components on the floor of my new apartment and stared at them in rapt silence for at least a half hour before it occurred to me that I was never going to get this thing put together without some sort of mental lubrication.
A gear was stuck in my brain, and it needed oil.
I downed several stiff drinks in rapid succession, and soon a task that had appeared impossible seemed not only possible but embarrassingly simple.
The bed almost constructed itself, which was a good thing since I was so sloshed I collapsed onto it the minute I was done.
Meanwhile, back in “where to put the staircase-land,” I waited for a visitation from the Step Muse, who stubbornly resisted my call.
Michael sat quietly on the sofa nearby. “How about connecting the balconies?” he asked in his most casual voice.
This is one of the things about Michael. He never acts excited or screams “Eureka!” when he’s solved a difficult problem.
He just solves it and tells you the answer.
My mind raced.
We could put the staircase in the front corner of the balcony, near the driveway, facing the water. Nothing was happening in that corner of the balcony anyway. And just think of the ocean views as you went up and down.
Good old vodka.
The next time you have a problem, give it a try.