Rooftop Determination and Hotel Parties
I have to admit, I am the worst chaperone ever.
Some people are gifted with a large quantity of really good friends of all ages and backgrounds. That would describe my friendships perfectly. Which is why, at 21, I ended up as room chaperone for a group of my friends high school prom. I think it was Senior year for some of them... I don't remember.
These kids lucked out. With photography becoming an intense, burning passion for me, I practically demanded a full out, Dallas Adventure Photoshoot with them before they went to enjoy their night of dinner and dancing. Let me tell you, these kids did NOT disappoint.
I mean, COME ON! Have you ever seen a group of juniors and seniors look this threatening with their fashion?? And that color pallet? These guys agreed to coordinate their look and it positively destroyed all "prom looks" I have seen before and has tainted my opinion on what a "prom look" is forever more.
I'm also 90% they put me to fashion shame as I'm pretty sure I was wearing a men's striped t-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap backwards while running about with them. I mean, Someone had to look human...
Freshly photographed and perfectly styled, the kids left me to enter the grand ballroom and suddenly, I realized "what am I possibly going to do with myself for the next six hours?"
I called in backup.
A quick phone call later, I had my photographer enthusiast and birthday twin on his way to my location. What was our plan? We had none other than we had two cameras and all the time in the world to kill in the United State of Dallas.
I'm not fully sure how this happened, (I have a really bad and selective memory, and it often selects to NOT remember things I want to remember) but somehow, we ended up deciding that we needed to get on the roof of the giant hotel the prom was hosted at.
How does one get up to the roof? Well, you certainly can't ask the staff. I HIGHLY doubt they would tell you "oh yeah, take these stairs up 50 flights, take a left and the roof access door is on your right!"
Stealth and intuition was the only way to get up to the top.
We took a gamble on a stairwell at the end of the hallway and climbed. And climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and climbed... blocked. The stairs ended on a fairly high floor, but there was no roof access.
Another set of stairs found on a different area of this massive hotel looked promising. Maybe this is the set that takes us all the way up?
But, this time, there was an unmarked door halfway up to where the stairs ended. Justin tried the handle to the unmarked space and success!
What was the room we entered? I don't know. Some really old control room and laundry room? There was a random ladder in the middle of the room and a ton of panels and a washer and dryer in a corner.
I think my camera must have been dead at this point as I only have cellphone images starting at this point. Either that or I wasn't expecting to go on this adventure so I just didn't have it at all. Not sure and don't remember.
We looked around the creepy room and took some photos and then noticed the room had a dark hallway attached to it, Justin walked toward it.
I would like to take a moment and point out that there is bravery in numbers. I would not have done half (if any) of the things we did this night had I not had company.
The hall lead to another room which lead to a hall with a doorway at the end of it.
Well, I guess we've made it this far, lets open the door.
It lead to a less traveled, but "guest sanctioned" area of the hotel where there was a giant window looking out over the pool straight in front of us, elevators on our left and to the right were two double doors that read "employee access only." It's like a "choose your adventure" book.
Employee doors it was!
We pushed open the doors and popped into a well-light industrial kitchen area. No one was around to see us enter, but there was noise of someone washing dishes close by and the constant moving of plates and other glasswares. We had to keep moving or get caught and kicked out.
At this point, I realized that should I get caught, I could get kicked out the hotel that I was supposed to be staying in overnight with the kids currently dancing their hearts out on that prom dance floor. I was their chaperone after all!
Adventures can have consequences and I was forced to weigh in my head what they might be as simultaneously I had to keep moving further into an area where I was NOT supposed to be to ensure that I DON'T get caught... it was a mess for my nerves for sure.
My dramatic thoughts of getting thrown out suddenly get interrupted by music. Not pop, not prom music, not classical, not rock, but some kind of tribal-esk meets bollywood pop-disco dance music. Why is this music playing?!?
We reach the end of the kitchen area and see double doors that lead out, presumably to the main areas of the hotel and coincidentally, where the music is blasting from.
The doors open and
We had just walked into the main ballroom area where a wedding reception was taking place in!
Justin has infinitely more tact than I do and was seemingly unfazed as he yanked me quickly out of sight of all the white clad guests dancing around what I presume was the happy couple. I found myself wanting to be invited to a wedding such as this one someday. It looked like such a fun party filled with many special, culture-influenced traditions such as the dance we got to witness as we darted out of sight.
I also wanted to know why everyone was in white. That takes MASSIVE coordination and cooperation.
We scurried past a doorway where a photobooth was set up and Justin commented that in all fairness, should someone catch us, we were both clad in all black and carrying cameras. We would just have to claim we were working that wedding.
Back in the main area of the hotel again, and still filled with an unquenchable, passionate determination to get to that roof top, we hoped into an elevator. The next floor up, a group of young adults joined us and started a conversation with us. We told them about the wedding we just experienced and by the end of the elevator ride, we had made new (probably intoxicated) friends. As they left the elevator, our new friends said "after you get to that roof, come join us at our room for a party!" and they yelled out the room number as the doors closed.
I turned to Justin in disbelief. What is this night!?!
We find one last stairwell that looked fairly promising and FINALLY, reached the top of the stairs where a doorway that could only lead to the rooftop waited for us. The door had a HUGE red sign on it that read "DO NOT OPEN ALARM WILL SOUND" and "NO TRESPASSING BY ORDER OF LAW"
Wow. Okay. Harsh.
Justin's hand reaches for the handle.
"Should we try it?" he asks.
I start to think about all that is about to come crumbling down once I get caught. I think about how I am the WORST chaperone ever while simultaneously wondering if I can outrun someone down stairs. On flat ground, there is a good chance, but stairs?? And are there cameras in this thing? Even if I outrun them, will they know I did this? I'm the adult here and I'm about to get kicked out. How did this happen?
I'm sweating and I don't answer Justin cause I honestly didn't know whether I should say yes or no to his question.
Turns out, he didn't need my reply.
The door pulls s l o w l y away from it's frame. I look up at the magnetic alarm box that is attached to the door and frame and silently die inside. This is it. I've dug my grave and I'm about to lay in it I think to myself.
"soooooooo..... is it a silent alarm?" I question
Justin yanks open the door all the way and we rush up the remaining few stairs onto the roof while I try my best to suppress the scream of happiness bubbling up from inside me.
WE FINALLY DID IT!!!!!!
There is one small fence on one side of the building trying to keep you from falling to your death and the rest of it is completely home free. You could just jump off it if you wanted.
Dead center on the rooftop is an office chair, the kind on wheels. I plop myself down in that chair to fully survey the 360 view of the beauty of my favorite city in comfort.
Justin spins me around in the chair and it scoots a little and I bail. No WAY am I gonna die by falling off the roof riding in a dumb office chair!
I'm not fully sure how long we were on the roof. An hour? Two hours? Maybe it was only minutes. Time seemed to have stopped. (Honestly, with the amount of time we invested to get up there, no way was I cutting this visit short) Justin filmed and photographed the skyline and me silhouetted against it. I counted stars and watched the tiny, ant-like cars drive all around me. I tried picking out the districts I know so well from that hight up, but it was hard! Everything was so small!
I was laying there, looking up at the stars when I realized, we were not alone.
A group of guys appeared on the roof from the opposite side of were we came from.
"This is probably the end for me" I thought. The alarm was silent and my time had come.
As the guys moved closer, I realized one of them was vaping. That's when I knew we had just be discovered by a group of fellow curiosity followers and we were going to be fine.
Justin and I both will talk to anyone and everyone who will listen and talk back, so conversation was struck up with these fine fellows. One of the guys ended up telling us his entire life story. He talked about getting clean and his struggles with keeping out of his addiction. We talked about Jesus and He told us how he loved photography and he comes to this roof top every so often. We asked how he go onto this roof and he said he climbed from the outside of the building. I WAS SO THANKFUL THAT IS NOT WHAT I ENDED UP HAVING TO DO TO GET UP THERE MYSELF.
After forever, once we were pretty cold in the windchill 40 floors up, we made our way back through that threatening door and to the base of all those stairs we climbed. On the elevator ride to head back to my hotel room, Justin suddenly pushes a floor button that is NOT where my room is.
"ya up for it?"
I think about everything we have lived through tonight. I must have been on some adrenaline high...
Room 6015. The party room.
I will admit RIGHT NOW that I have made some dumb choices in my life. I'm not sure if this was one of them. Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless of whether or not you personally would do this, I did and I don't regret it at all.
We knocked on that door and I wondered if they would actually be okay with the fact that we showed up. I thought people only did this in the movies? The door opens and...
"AYYYYY! Elevator friends! You made it!"
They are cool with it.
My life is probably a movie.
The two of us get introduced to everyone like celebrities. I start to wonder if there was a bet going round to see who could get randos like us to show up to this party? Justin and I are both SUPER "under dressed" compared to the style of dress everyone else in the room is in.
And then, we do what you do at any normal party! You talk, you have fun, and you take pictures.
"Here! Have some pizza!"
Yes. Yes I will.
"Here! Have a cookie"
"Don't eat that, Scout."
Right. Got it. Justin is still sane, thank GOD.
I had some great conversations while at this very odd party. One guy told me about his new job. He's what I would call a young professional. He was really excited to tell me all about what he was getting to do as he was a hispanic boy and for him to be at the level he was at was a very exciting thing. Not only for the progress in the work place, but also for his family line. He was the first of his family to get to go to college and it was really paying off for him.
And here is where my memory cuts off again. I don't remember what happened or when we left. I do know I never got kicked out of the hotel and I did fulfill my commitment of being chaperone for my friends! So that's a plus!
As I wrote this story out, I sent a text to two of my close friends telling them how I am super thankful for how The Lord has watched over my life throughout the years. I mean, I could have walked into a horrible situation by going to a stranger's hotel party!
I also realized I'm not the best example for "following the rules" which doesn't make me "bad," but does pose a lot of challenges in situations. Sometimes, not following the rules is a good thing that makes you end up someplace amazing. Other times, you could end up in jail.
I think I often gamble too much with that.