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doors

DAK Hotel Sacher, Vienna 1969It’s a small thing, to knock on a closed door, but in our house it was a rule. A closed door meant Privacy. It meant knock, listen, wait. In our neighbors’ houses, I was amazed that doors seemed mere tissues in the air, without substance or meaning, things to swing aside without thought. Constrained by the constant nibble of small rules, always the good girl, I was envious of this reckless, feral behavior, this bound-less privilege.

But for my mother, who had few boundaries, this was a critical mark of civility, something that separated us from the shouters, the art-less, the bargers-through-doors. It was important, this evidence of etiquette. And she wasn’t wrong; honoring a closed door seems reasonable and polite.

But what she was trying to keep out — the foul air of an untold hurt, pain, fear, loneliness — had no respect for doors or rules. It invaded, inopportune, and smeared itself on everything.

. . . . .
photo: Dorothy gazes out, Hotel Sacher, Vienna, 1969