I've heard it said "when one door closes, another opens." But what happens when one door closes, then opens, and then remains open? Such was my experience this morning. It was very cold, just a little bit above zero degrees Fahrenheit (a German word, if ever there was one; isn't their word for zero "null"? I'm boning up on meine Deutsch in preparation for my odyssey to Berlin, on Friday). This morning was crisply frigid with the sound of crunchy snow under my feet. Invigorating and lustrous. An incandescent beauty greeted me as I looked down from Tipperary Hill onto gleaming wood-frame houses, many -- like ours -- more than one hundred years old. White smoke rising straight up (as if the whole community were announcing "habemas papam") against a cerulean sky. A scene that could be more poetically and mystically described by The Secretary of Dawns. I brushed a veneer of snow off my car, holding my gloves in my hand (if I can remember back that far). (Why do I do that with my gloves? Is it laziness, impatience, or self-destructiveness?) I placed the key in the car door. It is not a car door that can be unlocked or locked electronically. The 1999 Ford Contour (listed on the registration as green but it strikes me as more olive-tan) is not paid off (technically, yes, but it was paid by borrowing money at a cheaper interest rate than the original loan), and sports very retro manually locking (or unlocking) doors. I turned the key right, left, then right again, then left, encountering frozen resistance, which I expected, since the lock had recently been sticking, largely owing, I felt, to the moist weather followed by sudden temperature plunges. Happily the door opened. (In that preceding use of the adverb happily, does it refer to the door or the act of opening? Well, if it is truly functioning as an adverb, it must refer to the verb opened. Admittedly, it is an adverb that squintingly tries to modify the whole sentence -- as does the word admittedly in this sentence.) But the door did not close. More accurately, it did not stay closed. (This was not a shock; the same thing happened earlier in the week.) I slammed it, figuring that a jarring thrust might do the trick, dislodging ice or frigidity, as if the door were an illuminating and glistening sexual metaphor. No luck. I lustily slammed it several times, and still the door would not latch closed. I sprayed WD-40 onto the keyhole, onto the door's locking mechanism, and onto the latch on the frame of the car. You might say I sprayed both the male and female lock components. I even sprayed the manual lock lever on the inside of the driver's (moi) car door, leaving an oily smell, but not nearly as much as I had expected, perhaps because of the cold. All the while, the car was running, defrosters going. I felt that perhaps the environmentally suspect act of warming up the car might generate a cumulative de-icing effect (I have a small de-icer spray device, but I didn't bother; it didn't work the other day). I even tried closing the door tenderly and gently, as if treating it thusly would coax it to surrender romantically into its rightful niche in the universe. No deal. I tried to lift the door up while closing it, imagining it may have been misaligned (as opposed to maligned, hence the slamming). Time was ticking away. I was already late for work (typical). The morning was still beautiful. Lambent. I pictured neighbors (neighbors are very close by; even a driveway is a treat; the house of our down-the-hill neighbors, renters, is maybe five feet from our house, a proximity that bestows upon one and all the obligation to refrain from loud arguments or boisterous carnality, especially in summer). After a few more futile slams of the door, I decided to drive to work. As is. After all, I had managed to drive my youngster to school like this the other day, and the situation ultimately cleared itself up after I arrived at the school. The drive to work is under three miles. It went well, if comically. Oh. Let me point out that I drive a standard shift. So, picture The Laughorist, true to his appellation, driving the car, shifting gears, and holding fast the door with his left hand (I am left-handed), and perhaps managing a self-effacing smile garnished with my new DKNY Euro-style hip frames and newly acquired (last night) progressive lenses. I refrained from listening to the Bob Dylan Modern Times CD because I did not want any distractions. Right turns were especially problematic. Physics dictated that a right turn hurled the door orbiting outward. I got a little tired out before even entering the hallowed temple of Labor. But I got there. And not too grouchily or miserably. I didn't especially feel as if This Is Happening To Me, Poor Me. (Okay, a little bit.) I call this grace. (For the record, a car repair place near work fixed it for thirty-eight dollars and change; cleaning, greasing, etc. They had to open the door up. We'll see. No guarantee it might not happen again.) The whole episode strikes me as a scene out of Haruki Murakami. What lessons can I draw about my encounter with the door? What have I learned, and what greater metaphor applies? What did my friend the door teach me, just for today?
One door opens, with difficulty, then stubbornly stays open, then (with help) closes. One driver smiles. What is the sound of one hand holding the door?