Back in the days when I was feeling sentimental over my old house I used to pass it several times a day. I cried when they threw out the wrought-iron gate, replaced the old wooden mailbox with a metal one, and needed to go home and have a lie down when they ripped out the port-wine Magnolia that stood guard in the front garden, throwing its scent of Juicyfruit Chewing Gum into the street. If jubilation had a smell it would smell like that tree.
I saw people carrying in furniture that looked like it wouldn’t fit into my house. Beige and white couches with stainless steel legs in a Victorian style house seemed conducive to the people in the house always being strangers. A huge dog barked the odds, scaring the possums and tiny birds that played in the hedgerows. I wondered what the neighbours would think.
One day piles of wood lay on the footpath. Old floorboards and doors. I gasped like I had witnessed a murder. For a moment I actually contemplated picking up one of the doors which came from my dining room and dragging it home but I realised this might make people wonder at my mental state so I settled for the doorknob instead which I gouged off the door with an old fence paling.
I have kept that doorknob for five years in my desk drawer. It is cast iron and violet glass. I remember when it was actually attached to a real door in a real room and my son would call himself ‘Mr. Fancypants’ when he turned it because he felt it was really grand and should be on the door leading to a ballroom or a room full of jewels.
I have often removed the doorknob from my desk, holding it up to the light, watching how the violet hues spill across my hand like silk, wondering what if……
What if I hadn’t had to leave my old house and still turned that doorknob on a regular basis? Would my life be any different? Would I be happier? Can sentiment become misplaced and end up being damaging? And most importantly, when is it time to say goodbye to something that is no longer yours?
I said goodbye to the house long ago but the doorknob is harder to let go of. Memories lie within the glass, whirling like smoke. Old thoughts, old hopes. Sometime soon I’d like to attach that doorknob to a new door and turn it into a room that was mine. I think I’ll keep it in my desk drawer until that day comes, waiting.