Doors, Not Walls

With all due respect to Jim Morrison, I’m not talking about his band here – which would certainly disclose my age – but, rather, those substrates that create openings into buildings, rooms, and/or vehicles.

Photos of doors found in our small Portuguese village (Lousa, Castelo Branco)

I’m referring to property doors—the doors to houses in Portuguese villages and Spanish towns. (Not those in Door County, Wisconsin, where we lived before moving here to Castelo Branco’s Lousa from the USA.)

The diversity in size, shape, color, composition, construction, height, and materials (and whether they have windows and/or screens) makes me think about our former “melting pot” nation now divided by walls.

Doors usually are made of a sturdy, hard-to-break substance (such as wood or metal), but sometimes consist of a frame into which windows or screens can be fitted. Often attached by hinges to a frame, doors make entering or leaving a building (especially) easier to manage.

Often, doors have locking mechanisms to ensure that only some people can open them. Devices such as knockers or bells enable people outside to announce their presence and summon someone to come and open the door for them … or give them permission to open and enter.

Apart from access into and out of a space, doors tend to ensure privacy, preventing unwanted attention from outsiders. Doors separate spaces with different functions. They allow light to pass through (or not) … control ventilation, more effectively heating or cooling the interiors … block out the noise … and impede fires from spreading.

Doors also have aesthetic, symbolic, and ritualistic purposes.

To be given the key to a door can signify a change in one’s status from outsider to insider. Doors frequently appear in the arts with allegorical or metaphorical importance:

They’re portents of change.

As I walk our dogs past a hodgepodge of doors diverse and distinct by any measure – no matter how close they are, one to another – I can’t help but wonder what’s behind these doors? Who lives there: the boy or girl next door? Why is this door so different from a neighboring one? Is anything specious going on behind all those closed doors?

Please, leave the door open and don’t shut me out … let me get a leg or foot in it, at least. Even if it’s the back door (or a revolving one).

I realize that doors are much more than metaphors, since they serve security purposes: Doors let us in and usher others out. They provide the ability to look and see who wants to enter, before we open up and permit people to come in. When it’s their time to leave, we hope the door won’t hit them on the way out.

Useful, functional, and practical planes of engineering, doors delight us with linguistic and literary allusions: Opportunity comes knocking at our door, We can open any door – even creaking doors (which hang there the longest) – and, hopefully, not find ourselves at death’s door.

Who wants to be dead as a door nail, anyway?

People may insist on beating a path to my door, even if I’ve asked them not to darken it again. But, build a better mousetrap, and everyone will be here, including the wolf.

Doors, not walls.

Because, when one door closes, another one opens.

Which is why I’m convinced that the world needs more of them.

And that it’s time to close the door on this ramble.

Shared here are personal observations, experiences, and happenstance that actually occurred to us as we moved from the USA to begin a new life in Portugal and Spain. Collected and compiled in EXPAT: Leaving the USA for Good, the book is available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook editions from Amazon and most online booksellers.

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