Behind Closed Doors

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.

31 thoughts on “Behind Closed Doors

  1. What a brilliant idea, to photograph your front doors. Mine have all looked quite boring as I recall except the one where I live now.

    You sound a little melancholy Selma. I do hope everything is ok with your family. Just a little feeling I have which is probably just me being me again.

    It’s sad to lose a home you love but everything that happens is not only for a reason but a small piece of the greater puzzle of life. May all your pieces fit eventually my dear Aussie mate πŸ™‚


  2. Oh I loved this. I really did. What a wonderful idea and so beautifully written (as always).

    Yes, front doors and different houses. Strange really as I spent yesterday in London and I revisited two houses from my past – from much the same time (20 years ago) so it was interesting to come here and read this and think about it all a bit differently.


  3. wow selma,, this post was so right up my alley… it makes me wish i had photographed the hundreds of doors i have for a moment in time called home… what a photo essay of life,, and the doors that we pas thru to get there….

    you continue to amaze me…


  4. Such a beautiful post. So straight forward and deeply moving. The ending about self-reflection is profound and resonant. To truly know one’s self. A challenging journey, but an imperative for the soul to grow I think. Splendid writing – eloquent, concise, lyrical. One of my favorites!!


  5. Tell you what … if you look through any good book of travel photography, you’ll always find at least one picture of a front door.

    There’s at least one in my blog, too; not just a ‘picture of a door’ but questions:

    What’s behind it?
    Who lives there?
    What do they do?
    Did they install it themselves, or ‘inherit’ it?

    (The last one’s a particularly good question … I’ve been trying to get rid of my front door for twelve years now … it looks like it may finally happen soon!)


  6. My front door has the outline of a sugar cane machete. Inside the outline I have written” Be Berry Berry careful, dere’s wabbits about” Elmer Fudd. It’s just a reminder to prospective interlopers…To be careful…A wonderful post Selma.


  7. What a great post, and very Γ  propos of today for me… now I feel silly for the post I was about the write. πŸ™‚

    Amazing. As always.


  8. This was superb Selma!

    I loved reading through some of the stages of your journey to date, with the doors as visual reminders to experiences along the way. The last door and comments,words to ponder for all of us.

    A very dramatic and touching post. Bravo Selma!


  9. Hi Selma,
    I think that Anthony is right here again. You are ‘guilty’ of linear thinking, “where it all began and where it will all end”, open the door darling, life is ‘cyclic’, “I am home and passing through at the same time”, you got that one right!!

    I agree with Geraldine, Bravo Selma!!

    Have you thought about what your ‘initials’ mean? ‘SIC’, precisely, or ‘just so’, you’ve got the ‘prescription’ just right.


  10. THAT is a SUPER idea. I never would have thought photographing my front doors… I do take pictures of all our houses though. Still, how many times do we go home and never see anything but the front door?

    Moments of reflection are good, but don’t get stuck there. Keep moving forward or you’ll drown in them. πŸ™‚

    I’m celebrating on my blog today – the adoption went through! Woo-hoo!


  11. This is wonderful, and a little sad. I’ve not had many front doors in my life, but I do wish I’d taking pictures of them anyway. I’ve learned a lot behind each and every one.


  12. Hi Selma,

    Love your artist friend’s name Indigo. Great photo recording history. I enjoyed seeing the architecture in your nice shots as well as reading the story behind the doors.


  13. Oh I meant to post this but clicked to soon. I have kept a box of treasures since a child. I still have the one from my teens and add to it. (((Selma))) hugs to you. How achingly poignant about those shards of glass. I wish I could invite you over for a chat and hear more. Such an intriguing and heartfelt post.


  14. I envy you Selma, you have a front door that you swing wide open for the rest of us to walk through and to visit with you a while. A door that I seek out as often as I can. Thank you for using your wonderful words to lure me in to the world beyond your front door.



  15. I have only known you since your last front door.
    For me this door symbolises peace, laughter and feeling safe. When i know that I’m coming to that door, even if only briefly to stop, it makes me happy.
    I think I may start a personal project as beautiful as this one, of my friends front doors, shut, before they open.


  16. I’ve never even thought of photographing my front door, but then again, there’s a popular poster of photographs of front doors in my old neighborhood that really is a revelation. I never knew how interesting they can be before I saw that one.

    In response to your desire to finally know yourself I have to say that I think self-knowledge is something that we accumulate throughout our lives. I don’t believe there’s any end to aquiring it. I imagine I’ll still be figuring out new things about myself at age 80, if I live that long. Then again, those might just be things that I’ll have forgetten and then rediscovered.


  17. Hey Selma

    Just wanted to check in. I have an uneasy feeling that all is not well. I hope my radar is off course and that you are off having a ball somewhere. Take care Aussie mate.


  18. Love this story about doors! I have already lived behind 3 doors… Hope everything is Ok since it is a while that I haven’t heard from you. It’s almost every time this happens, something is happening in your life and I seriously hope that the feeling I have in my gut is wrong! So take care and sending you a big hug because I think you might need one right now!


  19. ROMANY ANGEL – how intuitive you are. I often think you must have some kind of psychic ability. You astound me again and again. You really are one in a million!

    BRITT – my Aunt started it years ago. She has lived all over the world and has taken photos of all the doors and windows of the houses she lived in. You should see her shots of Paris in the ’60s. She always said that seeing her old front doors reminded her of how she felt when she lived in that house, so I started doing it too. Seeing the doors really does trigger a lot of memories!

    RELUCTANT – well, I would love to see your London doors. Some of the doors in England are just FAB. And the doors of houses in the country are just gorgeous. So glad you liked the post.

    PAISLEY – how I would have loved to have seen all of your doors. A door is such a simple thing in a structural sense but it contains such meaning. We open and close it every day for years. It was actually really nice for me to remember all of these doors and how I felt when I passed through them.

    KAYT – thank you so much. I am thrilled you enjoyed this. πŸ˜€

    TRAVELRAT = when you get your new front door you’ll have to do a post on it. I have also seen a few travel books with lovely doors in them. I do believe there was a calendar out a few years ago about doors around the world. I should have bought it.

    PUNATIK – that sounds fantastic. I do love Elmer Fudd, although Bugs Bunny will always be my favourite – he is so cheeky. I hope that one day you will show us a photo of your door!

    NAT – awww, thanks so much. Your posts are always greatm by the way. I enjoy them very much.

    GERALDINE – it’s funny how the everyday objects can trigger such memories, isn’t it? It was fun to walk down Memory Lane.

    CHRIS – well, thanks for that. I always like to think that I take ‘the bigger picture’ into account; well, I try to. Sometimes it is hard to do. I really appreciate your comment.

    TEXASBLU – that is brilliant news about the adoption. I am so glad for you and your family. Wishing you much happiness!

    KAREN – it is amazing what a house (and a door) can teach us. So many of my doors have offered me safe haven from the travails of life that I feel happy when I think of them. There is nothing more comforting and solid than a front door.

    L’URAGANA – thank you so much. I am delighted you liked it!!!!

    GEL – I just had to keep that glass, you know? That is fantastic that you have your own box of treasures. I have odd things in there – a lucky dime I got in New York, an antique crystal button, a Partridge Family pencil, a ring I won at a carnival. They are worthless in a monetary sense, but priceless in sentiment.

    ANTHONY – Hahahaha. What would I do without you? πŸ˜†

    BEAR – awwww, you are so sweet. What a lovely thing to say!

    LINDA – I think you and I share a similar number of front doors. I’m sure your doors are much more interesting than you think……

    HEATHER – I feel a Not Hannah post coming on. I’m sure all your front doors have been amazing. It is nice to think about the stories behind them!

    KATE – you are a true friend. Awwww, thank you. I would love it if you started that project. It actually is a great idea. We all long to know what lies behind the front door, I think. I hope you do it!!!!!!

    ROSHAN – it does bring back all the memories, doesn’t it? Hope they were good ones.

    RICHARD – that is actually a very valid point about hoping to continue to discover things about ourselves long into our dotage and rediscovering things we’d forgotten. I do hope that is the case for me.

    MELEAH – well, I feel the same way about you. You are a great writer. I love your sense of humour!!!!

    ROMANY – as Tina says: ‘You’re simply the best…..’ XXX00000XXX

    DEOLA – so glad you liked it. That is brilliant!

    CRICKET – it’s never too late to start. I have missed a few great doors along the way. I used to have a front door that had a mosaic on it. It was the most gorgeous thing, but the entire building was pulled down years ago and the door along with it. I still kick myself for not photographing it, it really was a work of art!

    TBALL – thanks for being such a good friend. I really appreciate it. XXXX0000XXX


  20. >>when you get your new front door you’ll have to do a post on it.<<

    I ordered it yesterday … I’ll be having the front porch refurbished, too; the surveyor comes next Monday. And, I’ve just been out to take a picture of the ‘old’ one for when I post.


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