My suitemate in seminary,
the tender and silliest dyke you ever met,
blue eyes like morning glories
set above mostly pale
but quick-to-flash lightning red cheeks,
name of Anna Kathryn,
used to pause in my tiny bedroom doorway
upon returning home from class
eager to process the latest theological learning,
with someone a little less daunting
than the professor she was crushing on hard.
She'd stand there for hours
quoting scholars, weaving ideas,
requesting my partnership in discerning aloud
whether or not these ideas about God
or deconstructions of God
or silencing of the name for the sake of the Name
did or did not mesh with my fleshy, worldly experience.
I'd take in and push back or provoke or laugh or cry
given variable contexts such as
weather, menstrual cycle, relationship status,
the latest topics in therapy, and/or vague, lingering homesickness
that doorways, in and of themselves, would
consciously and unconsciously (I believe)
trigger by the mere visual of her standing there.
After this practice of occupying doorways
continued despite changing apartment buildings and bedrooms,
we thought more of it than mindless, convenient habit.
Might form lead to content?, we'd muse aloud.
Then we'd half-jokingly launch pleasurable fantasies
of writing a book one day entitled "Doorway Theology"
which became more and more frequent--
the utterance of fantasy, that is--
when she went on to the East Coast to get her PhD in theology
and I ended up in the economically thrashed rustbelt to pastor.
That fantasy kept the doorways central to the relationship
when thousands of miles separated our bodies.
Imagination sorta incarnates proximity.
In the last week, I've been having new fantasies of doors.
Not doorways. Doors.
They are magenta doors, surrounded by grey,
Orange Julius doors, surrounded by light brown,
bright cobalt blue doors surrounded by flesh colored adobe walls.
Every time they are front doors of houses,
looked upon by an outsider,
a stranger passing by, across the street.
They haunt me about some future possible
when we get bold enough to splash color
on physical architecture that represents
what's spacially framed as a boundary of coming and going,
a boundary of what constitutes myspace & yourspace in this place.
Are doorways altars?
Is the position of a door a particular rendering,
How you can stand there,
at the threshold of an open door,
the geography of it all literally belonging to an/other
but in standing there, inevitably, by physicality alone,
albeit temporarily and with great precarity,
the space becomes more yours then theirs,
which transitions them from owner to host
and you from passerby neighbor to occupier
which can confuse, sometimes subtly and quietly
other times wild and unsettlingly
the categories of self and other
there and here.
(Kind of like skin--a boundary so porous
folks have actually come up with theories
about its impenetrability
just to calm the terror of realizing
corporeal autonomy is a farce)
But how when a door is closed the doorway itself is inaccessible,
which leads one to know exactly where lines of self and other
and geographies of inside and outside are drawn
which can lead to a gorgeous, exquisite self-actualization
birthed from the death of codependence
or to a loss that feels like choking while drowning
in water so cold you don't know whether
lack of oxygen or hypothermia will kill you first.
There is power in the power to demarcate.
To keep open wide. To close and lock.
To crack it open, ever so slightly,
intentionally leaving a sliver of light
shining in the hallway like love infused Morse-code
to a tired and weary traveler
just home from a hard day.
Yesterday my husband had a vasectomy. A door closed.
I cried quietly on the drive to the appointment.
I cried in the shower this morning
after feeling like getting out of bed
required too too much.
Then I slumped myself in Tom Ott's doorway,
body heavy heart sick
from memory after memory
of an old, bald, straight-to-business
white man in a white coat
standing over and operating on
my beloved mocha-skinned husband,
memories of testicles splayed,
needles and scissors grabbed,
the smell of burnt flesh, sights of blood, gauze, ice packs
memories that terrorized me enough
to admit my hopes for ever having children
with this man, again,
died on that table, in that office.
How many possible futures die with the performance of a vasectomy?
Countless. Itself a theological question and answer.
Where are the protesters outside of these clinics?
Itself a theological question and answer.
In the doorway, I intuitively trusted Tom to know something,
an expectation rooted in radical trust
and longevity between us,
that he would see
--in that doorway--
that I needed him to see
what I couldn't conjure, gesture, speak.
"Come in, come sit..." he said.
With that invitation, he bid me enter a funeral procession,
one I didn't even know I needed,
where sorrow and care
could have their rightful places
in our mutual spaces
for the sake of truth
these altaring demarcations
these doorways where we dwell
these boundaries around exchange we draw
for coming and going
here and there
me and you
these places we place ourselves
what we bid enter
and what we prayerfully release