it doesn’t matter that they aren’t now attached to doors. a display of doorknobs, all lined up at an antique shoppe, beg you to wonder what doors they opened. what old house was it that had all its doorknobs changed? are the doors still there? these knobs removed; knobs that likely welcomed sticky toddler fingers, trembling arthritic hands, dutifully, solidly a part of history. what new hardware has replaced these knobs that had countless hands turning, opening, passing through?
the joy of having an old house is just that – the history of what has gone before you. how many times was this closet door opened? how many people passed through the front door? how many times did someone come home and walk in, close the back door and sigh?
we cannot think of doorknobs without thinking of doors. we have 22 doors in our old house, a few less than when we bought it, and not counting cabinetry. we have extra doors in the basement. beautiful solid six panel doors, some sporting their knobs, some knob-naked.
i think about the rooms of this home that they all have led to, these doors, the conversations that took place in those rooms. the babies, the plans, the family elders. the hugs and cherished moments, the arguments, the worry, the celebrations, each room a time capsule of lives lived in this very place. doors in, doors out. how much did a hand hesitate to open or close the door?
the metaphor is obvious – doorknobs and doors. the old and wise adage – “when one door closes, another opens.” the words sometimes seem like hollow reassurance. and i look up the adage and realize that there is more to this and is quoted by alexander graham bell, “when one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
the patina of the knobs shows wear. hands, hands, grasping and turning, opening. each door an invitation to the next moment, whatever that moment might be. choosing a door, choosing to walk in. standing. waiting. hesitating. we often wonder about the doors. maybe paralyzed with indecision, with grief, with confusion, we often pine after a door. we are often blind.
those doorknobs. if only they could speak. the stories they could tell, the lessons we could learn.