Maybe I don’t really have a story to tell today, but I do have something to describe. It’s a feeling. I know that I can’t be the only one who has experienced it, because I know that I’m not special or unique, but I can’t seem to find a name for it anywhere.
It does require a little something like a story in order to get this feeling across, so here goes.
When I was young — in the seventh or eighth grade, probably, because I know I had passed my elementary years, but I still remember being young enough to be, ah, unwise —I discovered a new room in my house.
Well, I say I “discovered” it, because that’s the word that we tend to use when we learn about something that’s new to us, even if it’s not new to the rest of the world. My mom had quite a laugh at my expense, because my expression, upon learning about this room, was presumably hilarious.
Let me back up a few steps. There was a door off of the living room in our house that I had never, in my memory, seen open. To me, it was just a part of the wall, as much as the two paintings that hung on either side of it. I’d never seen that wall without the paintings, and I’d never seen that door in any state other than closed.
I barely even noticed that door, because I’d never seen anyone interact with it. It never occurred to me to open it. If one of my friends had pointed out that door to me, or mentioned it in conversation, I doubt I would have known what they were talking about. That’s how oblivious I was to that door.
Then, one day when I was sitting on the couch playing a video game, my mom opened the door. I gave her such a strong look that I died in my video game. It was as though she had opened up the wall and revealed a portal to another realm. I remember very clearly saying something like, “There’s a DOOR there?”
And my mom, of course, laughed.
There wasn’t even anything special behind the door. It was larger than a regular closet, but small enough that it wasn’t useful for much else. My parents used it for storage. It had shelves full of random things, like batteries, toilet paper, cleaner, a tool set, and other stuff you might need around the house, but not very often.
Still, the fact that it existed, and that there was a whole other room in my house that I’d never known about or questioned, blew my mind. I’d lived in that house my entire life. I thought I knew every inch of it.
That’s the feeling that I’m talking about. The feeling where you think you know a place, or a thing, or even a person, but then you discover something new about it or them and you realize there’s still more left to discover. You realize that, even though you assumed you knew the whole picture, you were missing a detail.
Sometimes, that little detail makes you feel like you didn’t know what you thought you knew at all, and you shift completely from a place of knowing to the feeling that you don’t know anything. It can be disconcerting, concerning, or, on a rare occasion, refreshing.
Do you know that feeling? I can’t be the only one.