“The door to happiness opens outward.” ~Soren Kierkegaard
Doors are the subject of countless quotes, and my favorite is Kierkegaard’s. A door opening outward exudes hope, promises escape, offers sunshine, air, and limitless possibilities.
The last time I escaped through a door that opened outward, searching for happiness, I instead found groceries and lead footed it home. I drive too fast, (always,) because I have things to do. Okay, I admit that was once true, but now I have almost nothing to do. Old habits die hard, and you wouldn’t know I’m going nowhere by my driving technique. It is sheer luck that I haven’t been pulled over in nearly a decade. I realized my luck had run out when I spied through my little eyes, and my rearview mirror, flashing lights with a side order of loud siren.
An unmasked officer approached my (not) pimped out 2012 Honda Fit, her interrogation began. “Do you know how fast you were driving?” “Are you familiar with the area?” “Do you know the speed limit?” “Have you had any offenses in the past year?” Pointless question, rinse, repeat. I answered her, and I felt myself losing control of my composure. She could only see my eyes, but my emotions were obvious. I believe it was my alarming behavior that impelled her to ask if there were outstanding warrants for my arrest. Why else would I be so upset?
Taking my license and insurance card, she returned to her squad car to check my (non-existent) criminal history, and I think to eat lunch, and complete a dissertation on the fall of the Roman Empire. That’s unconfirmed.
“The strongest person you know cries behind closed doors because they have too much pride to let you see them cry…” ~Sonya Parker
Why, indeed. I cried behind my closed car door. While she sat in her squad car, I leaned my head back and cried snotty sobs and sniffles. Have you broken down while wearing a mask? Snot is unavoidable. My crying had little to do with the situation at hand. I knew I deserved the ticket; it had been a long time coming. A single speeding offense is an expensive inconvenience, but a convenient excuse to release the tears I’ve been holding on to forever and a day.
Three days later, (maybe sooner,) she returned with my cards, and told me she was going to let me go with a warning. I thanked her and sped off. I’m not sure what I learned from that experience except that I’m a hot mess and I need to keep tissues in my glove compartment.
After reading the above, I recognized myself as a poster child for repressed anger. It simmers inside my composed exterior and hisses out in a stream of steaming humor and self loathing. The kid who hid under the table while the chaos unfolded was me. I have trouble letting people in and allowing them to stay in. I am a disheartened perfectionist, grappling with depression and anxiety at varying degrees.
“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” – Graham Greene
We all have a lot on our plates. My plate is non-recyclable styrofoam and is divided into four sections. 1: My 88-year-old mother, who reads her junk mail out loud, now lives with me.
2: I am attempting to repair my house so that when the time comes to sell, it won’t be advertised as “a teardown.”
3: I was retired because of an injury, and I have since ghosted everyone I know.
4: I hatched three eggs, and despite trying to squat on my chicks forever, they flew the coop. My nest is empty.
Poor me. In a world of profound doors, I am a hallway. Nobody cares about the hallway, even though they lead to doors. I would venture to say that without corridors, such as I, there would be no
It is my opinion that once teenagers reach their majority their doors should remain closed.
My middle bird flew back to her apartment in New York, ending her extended Christmas vacation here at home. Before this, I hadn’t seen her since July 2020. COVID-19 restrictions, employment, and life had conspired to keep us apart. I cried because I miss my birds.
For readability, I’ll refer to that daughter as Tweety. Tweety’s impending visit compelled me to work on the house, so she’d have a comfortable room and stay forever. I thought about fresh sheets and a dusting.
“Behind every closed door is an open space.” ~ Dennis Sio Montera
Not true, Dennis.
I couldn’t open the door to her bedroom because it was blocked by a mountain of junk. Thing-1 is partially to blame, because to keep her room tidy, she was in the habit of tossing the superfluous into Tweety’s room. The condition of that accommodation set me into motion. The motion was to shut the door and ask Tweety to clear her room out when she got here. I moved on to breach another door. In the end, I would leave no doorknob unturned.
“Close some doors today. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere.” – Paulo Coelho
So much for respecting privacy. Thing-1’s room remains unmolested because she purports to live here. She does a pop in twice a month to soak in the nice tub and leave wet towels on the floor. Does that count?
“Be an opener of doors.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Taking Ralph’s advice, I opened my son’s door. It revealed a Time-Capsule sealed in May 2018, as confirmed by four calendars. That was when he graduated from high school and started spending more time, okay, I’ll say it, he moved in with his dad, who is never home. I was delusional. He hasn’t slept here in three and a half years, but I preserved the sanctity of his kingdom. Crossing the threshold into his domain put an end to the fantasy that any of my children still live here.
What did I find? A room filled with dust motes. There were five bean-bag chairs piled one on top of the other. There was a small bag of chips half-eaten, and an unopened, expired can of Monster next to it. (I wanted it.) Everything in the room had expired: hair gel, acne medication, mouthwash. Two windows had been left opened, just a crack, and the heavy blackout curtains were filled with hundreds of stink bugs, all alive. That room took two weeks to clean out. Fresh paint, a new bed, ceiling fan and window shades were the finishing touches.
That is the place Tweety lived in for the weeks she was home. She would clear out her room and make it habitable, I shouted into the wind. She did enough to clear an aisle by which I could exit if a fire were to break out while I foraged.
“Knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be.” — Albert Einstein
I cleared Tweety’s room it using the three pile method: trash, donate, box to save. It’s been painted, and I’m getting estimates to do some work on the floor. Her room should be finished soon.
The truth I’ve accepted is that I live here without my children, but with my mother, who is under my care.
“Often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller
I’m looking for my opened door, one that opens outward, directly to what should be… happiness.
Side note: doorknobs are made of nickel, which I am allergic to.