You could argue that Closed Doors is not the most original book title. But it stuck for a reason. And it wasn’t because it’s a story about secrecy or hidden truths. It’s not those kinds of doors. It’s the ones that exist in our head and our heart. The ones we’ve closed on a dream. That get slammed shut, barricaded and nailed. Or was it nailed, then barricaded? Remember the old Bugs Bunny cartoons? Other times they’re closed silently: a gentle ending, filled with regret.
We’ve all closed a door at least once. We do it out of fear, lack of confidence, confusion, failure. You know the rationalizations: “I can’t do that”, “I tried once but it didn’t work” (once!), “Those things never work out for me”, “It’s too complicated/ expensive/ long/ hard…”, “What will people say?”
“Why didn’t you ever settle down? You’re beautiful, smart, you have a career, your own house.”
“Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?” I look out and shrug. “There weren’t very many men. Two young children are a definite turnoff, and I never had time between the twins and work. I remember being tired a lot. I went to bed at the same time they did most nights.”
Michael pushes his plate away and pours more wine for both of us, then sits back with his glass, ever patient.
“I don’t think I was ready to make the concessions a relationship required. Most wanted children of their own and I was done. I was wary of introducing them to mine. I never did. I didn’t want them getting attached then hurt when it ended. I guess I made it impossible.” I look at him, so unlike any of those men, so sure of himself. Michael would never ask for anything. He’d demand it, as his right. “Maybe I was selfish. Perhaps it would have been better for the children, I don’t know. I made my choices, good or bad.”(Closed Doors, ©2017)
And what about things we’ve done and closed the door on because we didn’t like what happened: it was painful, embarrassing, too much to handle all at once? I’m the first person to say it is pointless in rehashing the past, Never look back was just that. But you have to be at peace with your past. If what’s behind your door is going bump in the night, I suspect you need to take a look-see.
We like to think we’ve done the right thing. It makes sense, right? Keeping what’s on the other side away. It’s just that what’s on the other side is a part of you, wether it’s something you’ve done or something you want to do.
I had planned on being very angry, furious, in fact. I fed it, fanning the flames all the way across the country, all the way back through the years. Like choosing my clothes that morning I was sure of what emotions I was going to wear. But here I am, finally getting my moment and I’m having a wardrobe malfunction. I’m wrapped in a cloak of regret instead of my battle armor. So many years, all gone now, and I’m not sure anymore. What if I did the wrong thing?
“Adam.” His name catches and dies in my throat. “Adam.” He’s unchanged, just an older version of the same person, like an actor aged for a role. Same square face with a wide mouth, opaque pale blue eyes and a prominent nose that Joy complains about, even if it’s straight. He is so much my children’s father, no DNA required. My children’s father. It reverberates in my head, looking for a place to settle. “Do you remember me?”(Closed Doors, ©2017)
Open the door. You don’t have to do anything else. Really. Just stand there and take a look. Start with that. Maybe, eventually, you can bring coffee or make tea and sit quietly with yourself. People actually make a lot of effort to avoid this. But do try. Just open the door. Let me know how it goes.
Image: by the author. This picture was taken through old coach doors on Bonsecours Street in Old Montreal. On the right is the south wall of Louis Joseph Papineau’s house. LJP (1786 – 1871) was a lawyer and politician. He led the Patriot Rebellion of 1837. A rebellion is defined as a failed revolt and Papineau escaped into exile. Many rebels were not so fortunate. About a mile from Papineau’s house sat Pied du courant prison, aptly named as it sits at the foot of the St.Lawrence River. It was there the rebels were hanged for treason. And that’s your Montreal history capsule for today.