transitions, portals and doorways

That last post about Dali always being underfoot, especially in doorways, garnered a comment from Tim Joe that was more interesting than the post itself. Here is his comment, along with my response.

Guarding the portal. Doorways are transitional areas and it is quite normal for creatures to linger between two rooms or two different areas. Humans do it; as do lions, tigers and beers. Bears. Christopher Alexander had much to say on the subject in his “Pattern Language” books. I spent the latter half of my questionable career primarily installing doors and it was the norm to have to shoo away some loafer from whatever opening I was working on.

Last night we discovered that one of the tenants at the Park had transited the portal her ownself. It happens about once a year here at the Whispering Pines, for it is a place where those on the way out seem to linger and wait. Her twenty year old autistic daughter (long confined to one side of a door) could not understand, I think. After two days we looked in and now I am typing poorly and drinking heavily and pondering this deplorable thing called the human condition as the various government agencies and trucks and cops pull away and my deranged buddy (the landlord Miss Jo) fights off the vultures.

We are all just dogs in the doorway no matter how much we may think otherwise. Your photo was only half a story; if photographed from the other side of the door there perhaps would have been a doggy smile or that bottomless look of sincerity and hunger and hope that these varmints are so good at projecting. I know this to be true and it is what keeps me going.

Plus I turned 57 three days ago and what with one thing and another and recent events my mind has been on transitions, lately; lately I find myself thinking about doorways.

I am remembering kindergarten at the Catholic School which was a constant danger; the Penguins where filled with gentle menace and there were bullies there and it was a stressful environment that I constantly sought to escape. By one of those broad strokes that the Cosmos makes when in the mood to meddle with human affairs there was a reading area off to the side of the main classroom. This was a kind of welfare-kid school and the class had mostly boys from pre-school to seven years old. But if you were capable of reading a bit, as I was even at five years old, you were given a gold painted keychain to wear around your neck and thus be granted access to the reading area and asylum from The Challenged. I did it and I read hard and a lot so I wouldn’t have to go back to the General Population.

Then one day (probably after looking at Tenniel drawings) I noticed an oddly shaped doorway just beyond the big stacks of books. It was a portal, really, and when I cautiously peered inside (after taking great precautions to make sure no Sister was watching) I pushed through the spring-loaded panels and found myself in a long tube. It was a fire escape of a big sliding-in-a-tunnel type, a 1960 precursor to what has become a common child’s slide. I pulled the chain from around my neck, took one last look at the stacks of books that had been my refuge, tossed the chain back into the room and slid away to freedom and the future.

Your dog is guarding the portal and contemplating her own journey, no doubt. As am I.

Sorry for the long comment. I have yet to learn to tweet.


My response:
Tweeting is for people who don’t have much to say. Happy belated, by the way.

Regarding portals: the little dog (Stella) will not walk through the doorway from the living room to the kitchen. When I’m cooking, she’ll stand just on the other side of the threshold, lightly barking. Not an angry bark. Just a “come get me” noise. I have to walk over there and spirit her into the kitchen (and then wash my hands, as I try to keep flavor-du-doggie out of our comestibles). She has no trouble going from the kitchen back to the living room. It’s just that westwardly tangent that bugs her.

We’ve come up with all sorts of theories as to why this is. Since my brother died, I’m always looking for evidence of spirit activities (and, almost always, coming up short) (but not always – I’ll get to that in a moment). So part of me thought (hoped) that perhaps there is something, some thing, in that doorway that Stella is scared of. She and Dali often bark and stare at–I don’t know what–when they’re in the kitchen. Things that James and I cannot see nor hear.

The more likely option is that there are mice (or, gasp, RATS) in the walls or under the floors. Another possibility is, since there’s a slight step up to get into the kitchen, Stella has stubbed her cute little feet one time too many and associates that doorway with pain. Until I can teach her to speak English or rip up the floor and tear down the walls, I don’t think I’ll get clarification on this. Which means theories will abound. The one I choose to believe often depends upon my mood at the moment.

Regarding transitions and doorways and spirits and scary shit: I once captured an image of…something. Some thing. Not sure what it was. A black, flowy, man-shaped thing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in mid-town Manhattan. Here’s a post about it, with photos. Though the blob looks more evil than it does angelic, much like the spirit doorway into my kitchen, it gives me hope that there’s something after this thing. That when we make the transition from here, maybe we go somewhere else.

So perhaps Dali is keeping something out (or keeping something in) when she’s in the doorway. Or maybe she just likes being able to angle her old dog farts my direction when I’m sitting at my desk. I won’t know until I know, you know?

2 thoughts on “transitions, portals and doorways

  1. Great Response Tim Joe, wonderful writing as ever. The “Portals” post reminded me of something I read in a Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher) book about thresholds that is based on the mythology- see excerpt below. Perhaps Dali is being Polite and asking to be invited in?

    “The idea of the threshold is an ancient mythological, magical and customary tradition. In Roman mythology, the threshold has its own god, Janus, the god of gates and doors. He presides over beginnings and transitions. In addition to the wards on the door that keep movie monsters locked in, Western European tradition involves a groom carrying the bride over the threshold of the house, immediately after marriage, to welcome her in. In one superstition, if the bride trips on crossing the threshold, the marriage will be miserable. In past centuries, a horseshoe (cold iron) protected the dwelling from fairies. And in the Judaic tradition, a mezuzah, a parchment containing the Shema Israel prayer is hung on the right side of the door.

    The point about the threshold concept is that it is a protection of personal space. Personal space, whether protected by superstition, religion, a magical tradition or a lock and key, is one of the most important hallmarks of society. People are also sensitive to their thresholds in interesting ways. Think about the sense of something ‘feeling wrong’ that you might have experienced before entering your home, only to discover that it has been burgled. “

  2. CryJack, it is important to remember that dogs think farts smell good. So old Dali (she thinks you are saying Dolly and it makes her feel cute) is not being rude. She is anointing your space with happy fragrance.

    Now I am off to see how many other Boogers I can hijack. C’mon, Ryan, we got work to do!


    tj, (the jackal)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: