Last night my husband and I sat down to go over preliminary plans of the new house we are building when we started talking about doors. I have never given much thought to the doors in our current house–they are hinged, have a knob and open and close. But when my father, who is also our PM, told us new building code required the instillation of larger, handicap accessible exterior doors, I started to think about all the doors in my life, most specifically the doors at our current home.
There have been ten broken doors in our home, one broken door for every year we’ve lived there. There was the year the winter was so bad the brand new, double-hung patio door we installed cracked and broke. That was a cold and expensive repair. Then the next winter our exterior storm door caught a strong northern wind and ripped it right off its hinges. One year our front door froze shut and all our guests had to enter and exit through our garage, and then the next year our garage door broke and we had to dig out our front door keys and enter and exit through that door. (That wasn’t nearly as bad as the time we forgot both the garage door opener and our keys and had to break into our own home to get in. Worse yet, the time the baby was sleeping in the house and my husband went back to work, locking me and the eldest out on the deck. I had to walk barefooted to the neighbors and called him to come home and unlock the door).
But not all of our door problems have been bad. The first summer in our home, we took off the front door and painted it a beautiful burgundy. It was hung and curing by nightfall. That night, the three of us– my husband, our eldest and I–slept out in the living room, the cool June breeze blowing through the screen as our front door dried. Or there was the time I was showering and our youngest, almost eighteen months at that point, was knocking on the bathroom door yelling, “Mama, you in ‘dere?” over and over again. Knowing she couldn’t reach the knob to open it, I ignored her, that is until my husband opened the door and let her in. She was over to the shower and climbing into the tub–fully clothed–before I even knew she was in the room.
In the earlier days of our marriage, I admit my husband and I had our share of angry door slams, those loud growing pains any married couple experience as they attempt this thing called ‘communication’ and ‘co-habitation.’ At almost ten years of marriage, we have this communication thing down, and have enjoyed a quiet, ‘slamless’ existence for many years. Now it’s our daughter’s turn. I swear the minute she turned 13 this last December, a copy of “How to Piss off Your Parents in 10 Easy Steps: Lessons in Door Slamming, Sarcasm, Eye-Rolling and More!” miraculously appeared in her hand. The house is not as quiet anymore, though when she attempted to enact the “How to Make your Point by Locking the Door” lesson, she learned quickly what a room without a door was like.
There are also many more closed rooms at home these days with signs like, “keep out!” and “knock before entering!” adorning the exteriors. I liked it when the doors were closed because it hid a young, giggling six year old in a fun game of hide and seek. Those precious brown eyes peeking out from behind the door to see if mom had found her yet are not as common these days. Instead I receive petulant glares and reminders to knock. Out of respect for their privacy, I do, and I always close their doors when I leave.
Artwork has metamorphosed my doors, as well. Where once my eldest hung pictures of broccoli trees, stick people and square houses there are now magnificent detailed portraits hanging on her closet door. Cute cartoon animals and comical, talking fruit are displayed there as well, a testament to my daughter’s creativity and her changing personality. Grade reports have replaced chore charts. Calendars of our families activities have taken the place of crayon drawings of our stick family. I still have some of those stick family pictures saved downstairs where I can see them, but they are not hung on the door anymore because they are ‘too embarrassing.’
Another door broke at home this week. The knob busted and when my youngest needed a band-aid, I couldn’t get the first aid kit. I brought one from downstairs and went back to work. When I finished, I found my husband trying to get the handle off, so I grabbed a screwdriver and helped. After unhinging the door and popping off the broken handle, only then did I notice the cut on his head.
“What happened?” I asked.
“The door hit my head when I popped off the hinges.”
“Sit down. I’ll get the first aid kit.”
And so I tended my husband’s cut and head wound, an opportunity I wouldn’t have had if the door hadn’t broken.
“I’m going to get you some Tylenol and an ice-pack.” To his skeptical look, I said, “This is me taking care of you. I got this”
I understood why he was worried. Six months previous he had hit his head and was bleeding, and I was unable to help him because I was trapped in a debilitating and terrifying flashback. But time and a broken door allowed me to help my husband. It was a step, an opening in a door that has held me captive too long.
This new house is going to be different, though it will definitely have its share of doors, I am sure. New doors, broken doors, closed doors, slammed doors, plain doors, ‘knock only’ doors, fancy doors and ‘keep out’ doors, but I am ready to take each change in stride, ready to see what the future brings.
“So every door is a 36 inch door?” my father asked, bringing me back to the white plans and our new home.
“Yes, why not?” I said. “ Let’s leave our doors wide open. ”