Sunday, March 11, 2012

SOLS #11: Doors of Our Lives

During this challenge I've been skimming through books I've collected about writing for inspiration and guidance.  It won't surprise anyone that Donald Murray keeps finding his way into my hands.  He said something about the difference between narrative and essay that caught my attention, "The essay looks at the narrative experience critically - emphatically but evaluative - putting experience in a larger context, trying on the patterns of meaning hidden within the experience." (Crafting a Life in Essay, Story, Poem p. 57)  What?  I was pretty happy with myself for managing to get a piece written each day and now this.  However, Murray challenges us to take narrative to the next step by turning into a personal essay.  He might be onto something.  I suppose it is true that the people who enjoy our narratives the most are our families and friends.  What about the stranger that stops by?  Does our writing speak to them?  Here's my first attempt at moving past my own personal story. 


Today I stand expectantly at the door waiting on my mom and daughter to arrive from the Carolinas.  My daughter, Cortney, is a senior in college and is completing her student teaching in North Carolina.  She's been gone since the new year, but is coming home for the weekend to take her Praxis exam.  To say I'm a little excited would be an understatement.  My mom is driving her home so it is like a double bonus, but I digress.    

After rushing home from school I shuffle between our front door and my tasks of getting my house "mom clean" as I await their arrival.  Finally I hear the back and forth of the door handle as it is pushed open.  My daughter bursts through the door with arms full of dirty laundry and essentials.  It is good to see her smiling face and long curly blond hair pass through our door.  She manages a hug even with her arms full.  I'm delighted to have her back home where in my mind she will always belong.

My daughter's entry into our foyer through the front door reminds me of the significance of doors in our world.  We walk through them all the time in our lives.  Who can't remember the first time they walked through the door of their first job, their first college class, or their first new home?  Doors represent beginnings.  A groom carries his bride through the door as they begin their new life together.  Doors open our eyes to new opportunities.  Doors make us burst with joy and bring tears of great sadness.  You know the saying, "When one door closes another one opens."  Doors can also represent an end.  It is sometimes necessary to close the door on a chapter of our life.

Like an airport, where you can witness the happiest of reunions and saddest of departures, doors can bring a variety of feelings.  I remember doors full of hellos.  There were the times I remember greeting my grandparents as they came to our house on Christmas Eve to join us for an evening of celebration.  My grandma entered our house dressed in a red sweater that brought out the beauty of her silver gray hair.  Her lipstick perfectly applied and her eyes sparkling as she entered through the door of our house ready with a hug and a laugh for all of us.  There is the hello of visiting a family members who live far away and seeing, for the first time, their lives up close.  The hello of a friend we haven't seen in awhile.  The hello of familiar faces as we move within our communities.

Of course, I also remember doors full of goodbyes.  As a child I remember my grandparents standing at the door waving as we pulled out of the driveway after visiting.  The last memory of my mother-in-law was her standing at the door waving to us as we packed her grandchildren into their carseats and pulled out of her driveway unaware of the sadness the next days would hold.  She stood there a long time that night - a lot longer than usual.  There are the goodbyes of our children as they slowly walk out of our doors to step into their own lives.  The goodbye of friends after an evening of laughter.  The goodbye as we leave the places we love to be most.

Tomorrow morning I will stand at the door again saying my goodbyes to my daughter.  As she walks out the door, I know the lump in my throat will make it a little hard to swallow.  I know my heart will weigh a little more on that day.  Careful steady breathing may not be enough to keep a tear away.  I know, however, this is an important time in her life when many doors will opening to invite her in for new opportunities and, of course, our door will always be waiting for her.


13 comments:

  1. Beautiful essay! You got to the heart of this issue from many sides. Truly explored "the patterns of hidden meaning" like you were hoping to. You exposed powerful truths and the heartaches of beginnings and endings throughout your life and made clear how this is part of our human experience as the legacy continues with your daughter. I'll be keeping this as a mentor text!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cathy, this is such beautiful and touching personal essay. The lumps in my throat reveal how much I can relate to this piece: the feelings you describe upon seeing your daughter in the doorway, upon waving goodbye to your mother-in-law that last time. Loved this slice.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Like the others, I am touched by your essay, and love how you used symbolism in the short essay about life. Nicely done, and beautifully written.

    "Doors open our eyes to new opportunities."

    Kevin

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have always loved your pieces, but this one transcends itself to another place. The symbolism of the door is powerful, and one to which many people can relate.

    Best of luck to Cortney, both on her Praxis and her trip back to North Carolina. And hugs to you as you have to watch her leave your door again.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, Cathy, this is beautiful. Doors do have so much meanings - hello, goodbye. I love that you wrote this and am a bit choked up after reading it. (Always a good sign.) :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I echo the above responses. Your writing made me think of the doors of my life. Great writing creates connections with the readers. I know the feeling of the doors closing and saying goodbye and how the heart weighs more. Beautifully stated.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Cathy, this is a lovely essay about doors. Doors represent so many things as you described so perfectly. We depend on the opening and closing of doors...It's a part of life. Thanks for sharing another wonderful slice.
    Val

    ReplyDelete
  8. You certainly accomplished your goal of going beyond the personal. I think you have connected us all with the symbolism of the doors. This was wonderful on many levels. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love your writing, and how you've made something as commonplace as a door into something symbolic and full of connections. Awesome slice!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I decided to log and read just 3 more pieces tonight before preparing for the week ahead - I know why I did - i neede to read your post - with it's symbolism and realism depicting what we all know as we watch those we love come in for brief moments and then leave through the doors of our lives. What an awesome piece.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I loved this post! I hope that you enjoyed your time with Mom and Cort. I love the image of doorways - life's beginnings and endings......

    ReplyDelete
  12. Cathy, this is so beautiful. It made me think of my own doors. I'm glad we've been able to walk through some doors together!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow Cathy, I cried, knowing how much your family means to you. What a beautiful essay, a look into the doorway of your heart. Thank you for that beautiful slice.

    ReplyDelete

Poetry Month: The Last Poem 30 of 30

For the month of April, I'll be writing poetry each day in celebration of National Poetry Month.  I've decided not choose a theme, n...