Anita Mechler: Windows & Doors

At first her knowledge of windows and doors was limited to familial, casual, temporary barriers to asking questions, checking in on someone, barging into the intimate areas of the bathroom without malice or curiosity, simply the matter of things. Her windows were for letting the cat in when she wasn’t supposed to and dreaming out into the big world. The door to her bedroom was only for persons known, and known so long there were few consequences of them crossing the threshold.

 

The singular entry for strangers came through the wires of telephone poles, signals sent through plastic casings and rubber buttons. It required her to know numbers now forgotten. There were also numbers dialed so frequently her fingers did the work and numbers so burned in her memory that traces of them still remain. Sometimes she sat or laid down or watched television shows with people on the other line, forever pushing the envelope of what was considered “appropriate” phone time. She didn’t understand what her father meant when he said she was inviting people into her bed this way.

 

But the television said otherwise. At some point in the evening, there would be commercials of women writhing, metallic fences, foggy night scenes, talking about loneliness and picking up the phone. Not until much later did she realize the connection and her place in it. It was her role to be the lonely one, the one who should be charging for her companionship. It felt dirty and alluring.

 

As the years went on, she realized she had a power. Strangers were curious about her bedroom windows, familiar faces crossed her threshold with different motivations, watching her as she slept. The world outside felt different: more dangerous, more intoxicating. It was the first time she used her bedroom window to sneak out and back in with her parents being none the wiser. It was scary, fear enclosing the small nugget of how freedom must have tasted.

 

The older she got and further away from home, all doors and windows belonged to strangers. Behind every door was a new possibility: friends, parties, drugs, who knew what else. Doors should be left open, inviting, and only closed for something private, fumbling, exploratory. Then it became normal, seen as romantic when men demanded entry, banging on the door to her building, trying to force their way into to her apartment, her bedroom. This was the state of relationships for her until she sought out something else, something calmer, less hectic, that happened at a more decent hour. But then there came the fallacy of intimacy: doors and windows open to the most private, human, activities and sounds. And there was no escape when the other person was there all of the time. You could only escape to the outside because it wasn’t your space anymore.

 

The loss of that stolid, constant stale presence, was replaced by fear, panic, anxiety of the strangers on the other side. The ability of malicious intent to break it down, to violate, kill, maim, or rob the beings within. Would the plan of defense work?

 

However, lately the door has been adorned with green garland wreaths, or it is the object of a cat’s curiosity, and at the end of the day, open to soft light and warmth. Creating sounds of joy from the inside: a singular laughter, soulful music, dancing, concentrating, snoring, stillness.

windows-and-doors
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8 Comments

  1. What an iteresting piece.

    The following two passages hit me viscerally…my gut clenched as I read the words…as I’m sure it was meant to…

    “Then it became normal, seen as romantic when men demanded entry, banging on the door to her building, trying to force their way into to her apartment, her bedroom.”

    If this paragraph is to be taken literally, and I assume it is, then I can’t help but be bothered by the concept that any woman would find it “romantic” to have a man…or men…forcing themselves into her bedroom.

    This is not a statement of judgement. It is an acknowledgement of the author’s skill. She made me feel the presence of her “door” the barrier (or is it the entryway) between her and passionate, maybe even dangerous interaction with others.

    “The loss of that stolid, constant stale presence, was replaced by fear, panic, anxiety of the strangers on the other side. The ability of malicious intent to break it down, to violate, kill, maim, or rob the beings within. Would the plan of defense work? The loss of that stolid, constant stale presence, was replaced by fear, panic, anxiety of the strangers on the other side. The ability of malicious intent to break it down, to violate, kill, maim, or rob the beings within. Would the plan of defense work?”

    The truth is, no matter how many doors we close and lock and barricade, there is always that awareness in the back of minds that doors can be broken, locks can be picked, barricades can be knocked down. We know that we are never really safe. We’re never really alone. We’re never really hidden away.

    THAT awareness–no matter how deeply hidden it may be in the back of our collective psyche–is both frightening and comforting.

    Very interesting piece.

    1. Thank you for your incredibly thoughtful comment! It’s reassuring to know that I’m not just throwing thoughts out into the ether.

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