There is a certain feeling behind opening a door. It’s a feeling of release, as the pressure between the two spaces equalizes. It’s a feeling of resistance, too, as you fight against that pressure in the moment before it gives way, and as you fight the workings of the door itself, which, perhaps, is not as loose on its hinges as when it was first created.
It’s a feeling of discovery, too, even when you’re opening a door to a familiar place. You don’t know, until it’s open, what might have changed. If you’ve never been there you might not know what lies on the other side at all. Even if there’s a window to that same space, well, looking through a window can never measure up to walking through the door and knowing that space for yourself.
Ana knows those feelings well, and who doesn’t, going through life in the world? Life is full of doors — closed doors, open doors, locked doors, broken doors, doors that open at anyone’s approach and doors that will never open at all. You can’t pass through life without passing through doors. You can’t move forward unless you find a way to open every door before you.
Since the very earliest memories of her youth, Ana has loved doors. She remembers the smile that stretched its way across her face the first time she opened a door by herself. It was the door outside, to her family’s backyard, on cool spring day. She remembers the way her mother panicked when she found Ana outside alone, sitting among the bee-covered flowers in the garden.
Her young self’s fascination reminds her now of her little cousin, who loves light switches, who loves flicking them up and down and making the connection between the switch and the light on the ceiling that bathes the room in light as his little fingers move the switch.
Ana sees doors like she sees faces. The pop out from the world around her, drawing her attention away from the blank walls through which they pierce. Ana thinks everyone sees doors this way. If they didn’t, she theorizes, then they wouldn’t be able to get around. Doors are solid and identifiable: they have clearly defined borders, and a sense about them of openness, even when they’re closed.
There’s one more feeling that Ana gets around doors: a feeling of anticipation, of emptiness beyond; of something like intangibility, because a door isn’t meant to be a barrier. It’s a portal. When she touches a door, she can almost feel the space behind it, longing for her to enter into it.
In late elementary, Ana began to feel doors where there weren’t any. She would be walking along, perhaps on the sidewalk on the way to the front door of her school, and feel that feeling of pressure to one side, as though there were a closed door that wished to be open. She felt, suddenly, as though she was enclosed in a small room, and next to her was a door which opened out into a much, much larger space.
The first time she experienced this, she didn’t think much about it. She ignored it and moved on. The second time, she tilted her head, but her senses — at least, her eyes and her hands — told her there was nothing there. Nothing but air and the walls of the school behind it.
She had this feeling for years, of walking by doors when there wasn’t even a wall or a fence nearby into which a door might be built, of walking by doors even in the middle of an open field, where, just like that first time, the world suddenly felt smaller and more restricted despite the wide space surrounding her.
It was not until just after she had graduated high school that the feeling of a nearby door came upon her clear and strong. She was walking alone in the woods behind her house, breathing in the summer air and trying to find some peace among the worry and excitement that had become her life as she anticipated her transition to college.
In the woods between two old trees, she felt a door. There was nothing there, of course; nothing but trees and undergrowth and beams of sunlight lancing down, illuminating the dust and pollen that floated through the air. Curious, she walked between the trees. In the middle of her stride, it felt as though she had pressed her body up against a thin wooden door, behind which wind stirred an empty, open space.
She did not pass through the door, but around it. It was not open. She could tell that, by feel. It was a closed door. It was potential waiting to be actuated. She reached out, with one hand, searching for a doorknob or a handle or something that felt like one. She found nothing, at first. She stepped forward into that space where it felt as though the door was pressed up right against her, surrounding her, even, and then she pushed out again, this time with her eyes closed.
By feeling she searched for the handle. She found it, or — as she’d expected — something like it, something with the feeling and essence of a door handle. She grasped it. She pushed.
The door opened. Ana breathed with it, feeling her breath become one with that of the world as the pressure sought to equalized between the two spaces. She opened her eyes. There, sliced into the air, was a doorway that leaked red light onto the green leaves of the woods. Without question, Ana stepped through it into the space beyond.
Above and below her, stretching up and own as far as she could see until her vision was occluded by a red haze, was a vast, round tunnel full of red doors. Nothing supported her feet, yet she hung there in that crimson space, marveling at the uncountable number of doors that now presented themselves to her, all begging her to open them and discover their secrets.
Doors, to Ana, were potential, and the potential here was limitless. She felt, for the first time in her life, unlimited.