Behind closed doors

  • Aperture: f/4
  • Focal Length: 31mm
  • Shutter: 1/40 sec
  • Camera: NIKON D1X

Northport, Alabama

I grew up in a handy family.

Talk of sump pumps and carburetors meandered between the mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables, settling somewhere firmly above my head and beyond my interest. Stubbornly, I locked myself in my grandmother’s closet, reading Faulkner and Hemingway, lost in my make-believe world.

Now that I have a home of my own, I read This Old House and wander the aisles of the hardware store, navigating the haze of herringbone sidewalks and fertilizer. The gaps between us are still just as wide.

I tell them I bought Weed & Feed for the lawn, cleverly avoiding the part where my yard turned into a tiger-striped desert of yellow and green.

I’m not so handy.

Today, as I boiled doorknobs in the crock-pot, I realized I’ve learned a few things, even if I did have to read books to figure them out. Slowly, I removed layers of ugliness, distilling years of bad decisions into one toxic soup, leaving nothing but bare knobs, beautiful in their stark blackness and gleaming brass.

I was proud of myself.

Tonight, as the dark stillness creeps over my house and the thoughts chase through my head, I think about the doorknobs — how they offer boundaries, privacy, safety, sanctity, peace — how they can hold life at bay or fling open to new worlds. I grew up in a house with few doors and now I live in a house with dozens — two per room.

I sit at my dining room table, contemplating the mixture of finished and unfinished knobs, thinking about the doors I’ve walked through: the ones I couldn’t shut, no matter how hard I tried; the ones that wouldn’t lock even though they should have; the ones that promised new beginnings, but lead to broken dreams; the ones that slammed, just as I was about to walk through; the ones that led me here — to another one a.m., another Wednesday morning, in another old house.

There’s always a way out, and there’s always a way home. You just have to pick the right door.

Music: Voices Carry by Til Tuesday (lyrics)

Pictures: Raw Emotion by Joe at Regular Joe 

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