Thursday, November 5, 2009

Does your home have a door that sticks? A door that leans open, if left unlatched? Is there an amalgam of dirt, insect corpses and hair from neighbor dogs and the cat that died last year piled in the slider track? If so, then your home is like mine.

Nearly every door in my home has something small wrong with it. The pains are too small to warrant a half hour fix, with most of that time devoted to fetching tools and cleaners, but seem too large to ignore and let me live my life. I move through customers' homes and find their doors sliding and swinging like oiled gears in an airtight factory. In my house, the doors are collected from every decade since the eighties, and exhibit the wear-and-tear of their years of service right through the fresh coats of paint.

My front door is painted black on the outside, and collects the hot morning sunlight on one side in such a manner that by 11:00 it is warped to the point that it's impossible to lock or unlock, such that, in the afternoon, you're better off going through the garage. And my back door has a screen slider on it that I have walked through enough times to know that buying a new one would be like throwing $70 out onto the Interstate on a breezy day, but the damn thing sticks when I shut it. There seems to be nothing I can do about this, short of outright replacement, which is when I would walk right through it again after barbecuing in the evening twilight.

Don't get me started on the shower door, which insults and offends from every angle. There are pieces so decrepit that they defy cleaning. It is perennially disgusting, and we detest it. The thing hurls insults at you on your way in and out of the shower, reminding you that its replacement would incur thousands of dollars in costs replacing the entire shower stall, fixtures, bathroom, et al. One innocuous, tearless day it will shatter into oblivion upon my opening, taking my bank account with it, but it denies me this moment of grace, and continues to mock, suggesting daily that I will emerge from the shower soiled, tainted, and infected if I touch it on my way out, which I have to.

The pantry door in the kitchen has the hinges on the wrong side. The closet doors in my bedroom slide off their tracks, defying anyone to close them fully. All the exterior doors are drafty, and even the garage door openers work intermittently, requiring multiple presses of the buttons, or a careful wrangling of the keypad so that the cover doesn't break off. Again.

The sum of all these tiny nuisances amount to a category of ignored, neglected, tolerated, and, eventually, unnoticed pains. There is no time for the recurring idiosyncrasies, since that time is more wisely spent making dinner for the family, or tickling the children at work day's end. They are like tiny scars on an aging body, old wounds and sores never properly healed, but a collection of which paint a perfect, unique history. A Character. But these doors, with all the safety and security and privacy that they offer and provide, function well enough and, like all the people who open them, enter them, slam them, and move silently behind them, stave off replacement forevermore.