Most of us take doors for granted, like we do our feet and teeth.
Only when a door is unhinged does the privacy it creates become appreciated.
Surely, the door is a fine literary symbol used in contrast to the window. Kafka opened doors and then closed (and sometimes slammed) them in the faces of his frustrated protagonists. Standing at their windows, shut out from the status quo of society and its bureaucracy, his characters viewed their world and its misery through their own ocular windows and the ostracism was complete.
Think of all the doors you have opened and then closed in your lifetime. Some you have left open; some you have shut with authority; others you have carefully secured in the early dawn before you left.
A door offers a tantalizing but fierce choice–to engage, go out, go in, and do. As the Doors’ lyrics remind us, Light my Fire.
I tend to notice how people present the front doors to their homes. I think (and perhaps this is the downfall of the English major) that a door indicates more than its functional use.
Does it need to be refinished? Do cobwebs settle on the top of it? Is an old-soul plant resting at its base? Is a chubby Buddha sunken into silver river rocks there by its side to remind all who enter to be at peace? A front door says a great deal about the person behind the entry.
I will admit that I have been a door-slammer. As a willful child, I took great satisfaction in throttling up my dramatic show of anger with a piercing scream of defiance in the family room and then running at full tilt down our long hallway, unmuffled, finally reaching my bedroom. There the crescendo would build to a cracking climax–that of the solid-core door being slammed against its jambs with the wind-up of a skilled pitcher, say like Juan Marichal. The walls would reverberate, only to followed by the ominous click of my father’s footsteps coming down the hall at lightening speed and with authority.
In my marriage, I have thrown a few doors hard against their bearings and then dissolved onto my bed in a temper-tantrum of tears.
Too, I have opened many doors to complete bliss–seeing a grandchild for the first time in the hospital nursery, entering our hotel room on my wedding night, or stepping into a cozy beach house, escaping from a turbulent rain.
And then there were those doors whose knobs I hesitated to turn–the door to my parents’ bedroom, wherein lay my father, moments away from death, nineteen years ago this Thursday; the door to my classroom, N-9, a chamber where magic and fire, tears and laughter reigned for so many years, and the last glance into my house on San Martin Street, where we raised our children during their teenage years and where we were young, vigorous, and anticipatory.
The door is a paradox: it shuts us in and protects while it opens to possibility and beckons; it reminds us of finality while at the same time, suggests that we consider whim.