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the path back is the path forward


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a house remembers. [two artists tuesday]

a house

there is a screen door that i am lusting over.  it sits outside an antique shoppe, subject to the rain and snow, sun and wind.  one of these days we will take big red over there and purchase it; the test is that i am still thinking about it.  we have no idea where we will put it.  but there is something about it; it has a story and that story will always be a mystery to us.  giving that door a home again will add to its journey, its history.

last night i had a dream.  it was, as dreams are, fraught with inconsistencies and unlikelinesses, but i remember one thing about it in particular.  in my dream, david handed me a check he had received from someone.  someone, presumably the person who wrote the check, had scratched out the address and, all along the top of the check, had written in a different address:  my growing-up-on-long-island address.  i was delightedly startled and pressed david to tell me about the person who clearly now lived in this cherished house, but, in the way that dreams make both little sense and all the sense in the world, he was unable to give me any more information.  what i know is that it left me with a reassurance of the feeling from that house.  it was a reminder of a time gone by, a time woven deeply into who i am and, for that house, the fabric of about two decades of our family.

houses remember.  and you can feel it.  the moment i walked into our house i knew.  this was the place i wanted to live; this was the place i wanted to have the next part of my life.  this house had all good things to offer; i wanted to sustain its story.   i suspect it would have been easier to have purchased a brand new home way back then, something pristine and customized to our needs.  something that had a sparkling new kitchen or an attached garage, central air conditioning or an open floor plan.

but this house said, “wait.  don’t go.  give me a chance.  i can offer you a lifetime of sturdy foundation.  i can tell you i have been there in the light and in the dark times.  i can be a safe place for you.  i can hold you and celebrate you and listen to the laughter of your children.  you can walk on my old wood floors and keep food in my old pantry.  you can have dogs and cats and they can run circles through my rooms and children can push or ride plastic wheeled toys round and round hall-kitchen-dining room-living room.  you can use my rooms as you need.  a nursery with a singing-to-sleep-rocking-chair can later be a studio with a big piano; i can rejoice in listening.  you can sit in my south-facing living room and delight in the sun streaming in the windows.  i know it will need a little tuck-pointing down the road, but you can burn all the torn-off-the-packages-christmas-wrappings in the old fireplace. you can paint and redecorate and remodel as you wish for it won’t change how i feel.  i can be your house.  and i, even someday when you have moved on to somewhere else, will always remember you.”

we really need to go get that old screen door and add it to the story of our house.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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doorknobs and doors. [two artists tuesday]

doorknobs

it doesn’t matter that they aren’t now attached to doors.  a display of doorknobs, all lined up at an antique shoppe, beg you to wonder what doors they opened.  what old house was it that had all its doorknobs changed?  are the doors still there?  these knobs removed; knobs that likely welcomed sticky toddler fingers, trembling arthritic hands, dutifully, solidly a part of history.  what new hardware has replaced these knobs that had countless hands turning, opening, passing through?

the joy of having an old house is just that – the history of what has gone before you.  how many times was this closet door opened?  how many people passed through the front door?  how many times did someone come home and walk in, close the back door and sigh?

we cannot think of doorknobs without thinking of doors.  we have 22 doors in our old house, a few less than when we bought it, and not counting cabinetry.  we have extra doors in the basement.  beautiful solid six panel doors, some sporting their knobs, some knob-naked.

i think about the rooms of this home that they all have led to, these doors, the conversations that took place in those rooms.  the babies, the plans, the family elders.  the hugs and cherished moments, the arguments, the worry, the celebrations, each room a time capsule of lives lived in this very place.  doors in, doors out.  how much did a hand hesitate to open or close the door?

the metaphor is obvious – doorknobs and doors.  the old and wise adage – “when one door closes, another opens.”  the words sometimes seem like hollow reassurance.  and i look up the adage and realize that there is more to this and is quoted by alexander graham bell, “when one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

the patina of the knobs shows wear.  hands, hands, grasping and turning, opening.  each door an invitation to the next moment, whatever that moment might be.  choosing a door, choosing to walk in.  standing.  waiting.  hesitating.  we often wonder about the doors.  maybe paralyzed with indecision, with grief, with confusion, we often pine after a door.  we are often blind.

those doorknobs.  if only they could speak.  the stories they could tell, the lessons we could learn.

read DAVID’S THOUGHTS this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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