My Music


Thursday, July 22, 2010


Ingrid Michaelson has a song called "The Chain" and the quintessential line from it is "If you come around again, then I will take the chain from off the door".

I'd like to discuss this idea of doors. I have a door. I probably have several doors, for the several layers that I am---the door to me as a person, the door to my mind, the door to my heart, etc etc. But let's just focus on the bigger picture here, there is one door and it separates you and me.

I have a separate side door for close friends. Once I've let them through the front door, they can use this side door to come and go when they please. Sometimes the friendship door is guarded by a trustworthy concierge. Unfortunately this is because some people try to sneak in the friendship door when their motives are untrue. Sometimes a dear friend decides that their interest is much greater than yours. They come in wanting something from you, sometimes borrowing, sometimes outright stealing. They walk away when they please and never assume that you might want that part of you back. They assume that you'll always love them and that you will enable them in their bad behavior...behind closed doors and not. The truth is you will always love them...but after a few of these bad, cowardly, selfish ones, you've had to shut the door to them. They'll never learn if you continue to let them in. They'll never understand the gravity of their behavior and deal with their own consequences. So I hired a concierge who knows who I will not let in. He can call for back-up if needed, but usually he keeps the door safe from unwanted visitors. For those who have violated this door, there is a re-application process. But, it requires honesty & sincerity and a little mercy on my part...and it could take some time.

One time I had someone sneak through the back door. This door was apparently not locked or guarded in any way. I thought he was at the front door, but suddenly he was inside. He worked his way through all of my barriers without me knowing and for a while, that was okay. It felt good to let someone in, let someone share such a big part of me. It was uncharted territory, but I trusted him. After all, he had gotten through my door and that takes a lot of work. By the time I realized he had snuck through the back door, not through the appropriate channels, and that he had seen no problem in doing so because of his own benefit from occupying this space, it was too late. He was there and I wanted him there. He gave me a false sense of security, all the while breaking and entering time after time. After some initial violation, I tried to lock the door, I tried to bar the windows, but he eventually found a crevice, a weak crack in the wall. Sometimes it took heavy prying, but he was determined, which I falsely took as 'he cared'. He came when he wanted, ate the food, snuggled up in a blanket on the couch, invited over his friends and then let me clean up the party. We're talking almost years of damage control. After doing some major interior damage however, he broke a window and snuck out much like the way he came. I have since changed the locks and plastered a wall up where this back door used to be. I feel like it took a long time to re-build/repair after this one, but I have to say I am much more fortified than I ever was. Apparently there was some silver lining on this thunder cloud.

But let's talk about the main door, the ME door. And after all, we are talking about love here right? I go through life most of the time with this door locked...usually just one lock. Other times I bolt it shut, set an alarm, create an indecipherable code on a keypad, and seal it off with a large ring chain, requiring several artificial manipulations to unlock it, but few ever succeed if they even have the audacity to try. If you have tried, you met me at a bad time. I had something dear to protect. Don't take it personally. Sometimes locking up works to my advantage, but never without a cost.

I rarely go outside of my door to knock on someone else's door. I did this once in high school, with--for the sake of protecting names here--Daniel. Daniel and I were good friends...he had permission to my side door. However, he rarely took advantage of it. We were constantly walking past each other's doors in some kind of respective hallway. At some point I think he knocked on my door, but I was too busy and didn't want to be bothered by solicitors. But then I looked through the peep hole and saw him walking away...that's when my view changed. I opened the door and walked right over to his. I knocked, and...he answered. You can only imagine my elation when my ballsy maneuver paid off. But before I realized it, I was alone in what was only a shade of his room, with tattered posters on the wall. Apparently he lives next door to this faux-room, but there is a warning sign on the door now that reads, "Men Only." You can laugh, it's okay.

I have decided at various times in my life, including the present to just experiment with leaving the door unlocked. Take off the lock and the rough iron layer, the steel chain and the sign that says "No Trespassing." And even remove the single door lock and the sign that says, "I'm probably not interested." Trim the grass, paint the door a lovely shade of red, put up some flowers, maybe even a "Welcome" sign. I realize the drawback of my air-tight, destruction-proof door and the error of my ways. You keep the bad ones out certainly, but you keep the good ones out, too. You keep life out. Everything that seems so dear to you to protect suddenly doesn't seem worth the experiences that will ultimately bring you unending joy. So, I've put my welcome sign out. What inevitably happens now? Some people come by, admiring my garden and my brightly painted door. They stop by for a chat through the screen, or maybe even on the front step with the door open! I'm not fully willing to swing it wide, but I'm open to the idea. Things are changing. I start to notice the people walking by. I start to notice my cute neighbor down the street. He's stopped by and dropped off the mail that was incorrectly delivered to his house, chatted, paid me a compliment and then left. I want to go over to his house, but I don't know how. But finally for the first time in a long time, I'm ready to hand over the "in case of emergency" key. I'm hoping this will illicit an invitation to a 'let's do dinner' which will quickly turn into 'where have you been all my life?'. But maybe that's wishful thinking. Then suddenly a lowly wanderer, or a straggler who's been lurking in the bushes for some time, waiting for me to unlock that chain for somebody else comes bounding to the front door. Not only does he not understand normal social conduct--i.e. he doesn't stop by for a chat first or bring me the newspaper as a friendly gesture--he doesn't even knock. He just pushes open my unguarded, unlocked door and hopes that I will be there with open arms waiting for his arrival. While I hoped it was the cute neighbor down the street, now I'm even more perplexed and frustrated because this requires that I do one of two things: a) escort him right back out, pushing him through the door as gently but as assertively as possible or b) offer him some water or lemonade, have an awkward conversation or two and then forcefully push him out. I hate having to do this. No one likes to be rejected. I resent being emotionally inconvenienced and having to hurt someone else's pride. It's not personal, you're just not the cute neighbor down the street nor did you knock politely and test the water. The girl you want is not me and I know this for a fact. You just accidentally picked up my 'dinner party' invitation that I was trying to get the nerve to bring to the other guy and thought it was for you. And I hate that I might make you feel bad or put up your own lock. But, I'm sorry, you can't come in now and you can't stay here.

Someday I will meet someone, wherever you are, and I will know it's you. It may not be the cute neighbor down the street, though I may hope and wish. But you will come around and I will hand you the master key. It will be yours and it will let you in anytime you want. This room will be yours, too along with the heart that goes with it. And if I am right and I hope I am, you will stay...indefinitely. Until then, I'll try to keep the lock on the shelf and the flowers outside in full bloom. Hopefully you'll be here soon, look for the red door.


Tara : Damon said...

that's all.

i 'shismun' you.

Ashley said...

i love you. and i love this. just like your song writing your regular writing is also fantastic! your indefinite visitor will come. faith and hope is all we need. <3

Dale said...

Wow, Cat. This is awesome. I saw your Facebook status and can definitely say I have a lock on my door. I'm not very good at unlocking it very often, either, which I wish was easier for me to do.

Thanks for this post. I think a lot of people can relate to it. I'm sorry for the pain you've had to endure. I hope you find the one you get to hand the master key to soon. You're amazing.

Kylee said...

I love this idea! Thanks for sharing!

I think I'm waiting on the porch hoping that one day I'll have the courage to knock on the door and that you will open it up....

davecharliebrown said...

Thank you for having the words to express feelings and thoughts inside me--the ones I can never explain.

Kawika said...

Wow, Catherine! Thanks for sharing! I think right now I have a lock, a deadbolt, and a high-tech security system on my door. But I will try and get to the point where I can open my door to someone special.

Deanna said...


Also I love you and miss you. I'm calling you...TODAY