by michele tyson
went to an auction last summer, and came home with sixteen doors, and
$160.00 less in my pocket. I did not need, or indeed even want sixteen
doors; I only wanted two, but they were sold as a lot, so although I
wanted only a set of matching French doors, I had to take them all.
I had priced new French doors at Lowe’s for $300.00 to $500.00,
so I was pleased with myself. I figured I had saved at least $140.00,
and still had fourteen doors to do with what I liked. I tried to get
out of hauling them all away, but when I asked the auctioneer if I could
leave the rest there, he became unfriendly. As I had nothing more spacious
than a Ford Escort station wagon, I had to make three trips to get them
all home. It took most of the day. In addition, all of them were solid,
not one was hollow, so they were all heavy.
I unloaded them, I scrutinized them. Two of them were barn doors, one
of which still had horse dung on it. There was a third French door with
most of the panes missing. Six of them were a set. One was a screen
door. Most had great knobs; some of which were glass. The knobs I liked
best were ceramic, the grime of decades rubbed into the cracks by countless
dirty hands. One of the doors had beautiful brass hinges with a Celtic
design on them. I unscrewed them, and saved them—for what I don’t
know. What does one do with three half hinges? For that matter, what
does one do with fourteen extra doors? My husband suggested we offer
them to neighbors and friends who were remodeling their houses, and
then take the rest back to an auction. I thought it was a good idea.
I wanted to get rid of them as quickly as possible.
evening, using a syringe, I shot gasoline into all the worm holes in
case there were worms still alive. I dragged myself to bed that night
wondering if the money I had saved was worth the work. I had spent all
day on doors I did not even want.
is something about investing my time in something…Maybe it is
because my life is precious, and my time valuable, but the very act
of investing part of my life in an object makes the object valuable.
I realized the next day that something of the sort had happened because
I found myself defending my doors to a friend. “Sixteen doors!
You’re crazy! You’re such a cheapskate. Look at the work
you put into them.”
but think of all the history in those doors. Think of the lovely spaces
they opened into—perhaps a sun-filled parlor with a piano at which
a little girl sat to practice every day till she grew up, and moved
away. Think of the spaces they defined, and all the bad weather they
kept out of cozy rooms. Think of the dangers they locked out, and the
treasures they kept in. Think of all the times they were slammed in
anger. Think of the nights they were opened with trepidation by a forbidden
lover. Think of the ears that were pressed against them by curious people
trying to catch a secret. Think of all the time that barn door spent
in peaceful companionship with a horse. Think of the things the screen
nuts!” my friend interrupted with more conviction than I thought
should have just paid the extra $140.00, and gotten two new doors that
you could have installed, painted, and then sat and admired in the time
it took you to drag all those heavy, dirty old doors from one side of
the county to the other.”
but maybe not all of them are ordinary doors.” I said, “Maybe
one of those doors is a magic door. It looks like a normal door, but
when you open it, you find it leads to another dimension. It takes you
to a place you have always longed to be. A place where all your questions
are answered, and all your problems melt away.”
friend stared at me, but all she said was, “Sometimes I wonder
about you.” I guess her concern was grounded in some sort of reality.
A year has passed, and ironically I have still not installed the two
French doors for which I made the purchase in the first place. There
is some sort of cosmic mockery in there somewhere. Two of the doors
of the set of six, my husband turned sideways and used as paneling.
It looks great. None of my remodeling friends wanted any of them, so
most of them still sit under the carport daydreaming in the sun with
honeysuckle twining up them.
discussion I had with my friend about their autonomous life changed
the way I think about those doors. They are sort of mysterious entities,
each with its own story to tell, each opening to a mysterious world,
rather than junk cluttering up my life. I am sort of regretting the
day my husband finally hauls them off to auction.
rational part of me—the part that knows if don’t do my laundry,
I won’t have any clean socks—that part knows it can never
be, but still I fancy that one, maybe all of them open up, if not to
a different dimension, at least to a different viewpoint, an alternative,
a place of dreaming, a place where people who claim to know the answers,
also know what the questions are. When I see those doors under the carport,
it is easier to remember what I really want from this brief existence,
for they remind me to ask myself the question, “Where do I want
to be when I step through that door?”
is a potter, teacher, writer and public health nurse in Asheville. She
taught English and German in Germany for many years. Her pottery is
available at the Folk Art Center in Asheville. Although she has written
a great deal of poetry, fiction and memoir, this is her first submission
for publication. She lives in Canton.