53: Where the Green Door Goes

53: Where the Green Door Goes

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

Where the Green Door Goes

Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.

~John Ed Pearce

When my wife Renee and I first met, we would sit on the porch of her childhood home sharing secrets, laughing and on occasion, crying. The dark green front door stood stoically behind us, sometimes looming but always welcoming. Secure and always there.

That home with the green door soon became my home too. I spent many days and nights in that house… dinners, birthday parties, holidays and garage sales. Church gatherings and meetings with neighbors. A friend here and family there. Moms and dads, brothers and uncles, aunts and cousins all helped to create a patina of experiences that could be felt seeping from the walls. Orange trees in the back yard and olive trees in the front. It sat along a quiet street covered and lined by shadowy trees that created a veil from the hot summer sun.

Years later with our own family, Renee and I would often visit Grandma Eunice for dinner at the house and help to build yet more memories. The same back yard… with our own kids, dogs and dreams.

And so it went as time marched on. Then one day those experiences ended when Eunice passed away. There were so many memories in that house that even when she was gone she was still there. After the shock, mementos were boxed, antiques were moved. More garage sales and more boxes. Picture frames were taken down: their bright markings remained on the walls like empty windows to the past. The house was sold for another family to carry on and create new memories.

A year or two later I drove by the house down the corridor of trees I knew so well. I drove by again. Then again. I circled around and parked. New paint, new plants, many new things, but the same feelings of that old house came back. I walked up the steps, the same steps I had walked up so many times in the past. And knocked.

I introduced myself to the new owners, a nice young family with kids. I told them of the memories past and the long story behind the house. The presence of Eunice could still be felt. Inspiration, a thought then occurred to me.

“I love what you have done with the house,” I said. “You are going to think this is crazy, but, do you have anything left over from the remodel that you may want to part with?”

The gentleman pondered, then smiled, and asked me to follow him to the back of the garage. He climbed up a ladder and rustled around in the attic space as bits of dust fell. Then very slowly he lowered something from the shadows and asked me to grab a hold. It was the green door.

I said my thanks as I hefted it on top of my car, tied it down with great care and drove home. I took the green door, blemishes, peeling paint, scratches and all, and secured it to the wall at the top of the stairs in our own house. An opaque reflection of many years of happiness. The door to a home.

When Renee came home I covered her eyes and walked her up the stairs. I took my hands away as she stood in front of the door. At first she was not sure what she was looking at. She started to ask me… then the recognition set in. She was speechless at first; then the tears started. A spectrum of tears and emotions flooded forth. Melancholy and wistful, happy and joyful, they were all there.

It took her back, way back to a time of childhood memories, both good and bad. Memories of many years gone by. Memories of us watching television together as we sat on the couch next to her aging mom. It became a symbol — it was a symbol of days gone by and yet days to come with our own children. An embodiment of feelings and familiarities. It is just a door and yet it is so much more.

At the top of our stairs against the wall, the green door still stands. A constant reminder of memories going nowhere and yet everywhere at the same time. That’s where the green door goes.

~Stan Holden

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