One of the prompts from Cricket’s Slice Of Life this week is behind closed doors.
I have had several different front doors. I like to photograph my doors as a way of remembering where I once lived. It was fun to remember that there was a different story behind each one of these closed doors.
This door belonged to one of the first houses I lived in when I moved out of home. I shared it with a variety of friends including Mel and my artist friend, Indigo. We lived in a grungy, bohemian part of Sydney that was full of students, musicians and artists. No matter how much we aired it out the house always smelled of cheap perfume. Indigo thought it was because it had originally been a brothel and the eau de toilette used by the sex workers had seeped into the floorboards. I believed, however, that the house was haunted and we could smell the perfume of the original inhabitant. This belief was supported by the observation that sometimes at night the outdoor light used to flicker on and off for no apparent reason. I put it down to the supernatural, Mel put it down to faulty wiring.
Behind this closed door I worried about passing my exams, whether the Goth boy in my literary criticism class even knew if I was alive, and whether or not the weight of the world would crush me.
When I first got married we rented this house in Bondi for a while. It was nowhere near the beach so technically, it was called Bondi Heights. My neighbours were trying their hands at self-sufficiency and filled their entire back garden with rows of sunflowers and corn. From my bedroom window all I could see was an ocean of brilliant yellow. It was like a garden tended by elves and fairies. The sunflowers dropped their dust softly on our garden tables and chairs. For years afterwards they remained gently burnished.
Behind this closed door I realised I didn’t want to rent anymore, so I stayed in a job I hated for two years to save for a deposit.
This was the first house I ever owned. It had a cast iron range in the kitchen and an enormous maple in the garden where hundreds of birds lived. There were pink and purple fuchsias scattered in between ferns where little wrens bounced. My son was a baby here and crawled up and down the hallway all day long drooling on the floorboards.
Behind this closed door I learned that when you lose the things you love it will not kill you, but the fact you can live through it does not diminish the loss. We had to sell this house to keep our business afloat.
This door belonged to a house I rented but ended up buying. It was a house of happiness and of sadness. I lived here for eight years and became an integral part of the community. This door was open more often than it was closed.
Behind this closed door I mourned the loss of loved ones and realised that once again I would have to move on. After we had sold this house I drove past it. This door and the stained glass window above it had been thrown into the street due to the house being renovated. I got out of my car and wept. For the craziest of moments I pondered dragging the door into my car, but I knew it wouldn’t fit. Instead I gathered up some shards of the stained glass which I still keep in my box of treasures.
This is my present front door. Behind it I sit and ponder where it all began and where it will all end. This door won’t let me have anything I want. It forces me to delve deep within myself to get things done. When it is closed the house is quiet. Contemplation comes in waves. It is the first house where I have felt like I am home and passing through at the same time. There is a temptation to suffer, to bemoan my fate behind this closed door, but there is also the possibility of at long last really knowing myself.