Today I’ve been mulling. There is a door that I’ve been sitting looking at for quite a few years now, ever since I slammed it shut sometime in my late teens. It was a door through which I remember, I think, wandering back and forth quite readily when I was very young. In a way, I don’t think I was ever really entirely sure which side of it I was supposed to be on: which side was ‘Dis Side’, as Bomb The Bass used to say, and which side was ‘Dat Side’.
Maybe there wasn’t really a right or wrong side for me. All I know is that it was a familiar door, and one I was entitled to pass through. It was my door.
I don’t remember exactly when I closed it, and to be honest I’m not entirely sure why. I do remember I was at school — perhaps the first or second year of secondary school which, in Britain at the time, began at eleven years old and carried on, in my case, until I was sixteen. (I could’ve — and arguably should’ve — stayed on for additional training in the ‘Sixth Form’, then gone to university. But I was too keen to get out and into the grown-up world where you could do what you wanted rather than being given instructions all the time. Yeah, I know. I wasn’t that smart as a kid.)
Being in a new school with a bunch of (mostly) new people, I was lucky to find a group quite quickly who were into the same sort of things I was. They loved science fiction, horror stories, role-playing games. We took to meeting up in one of the classrooms at lunchtime and playing Dungeons & Dragons, or whatever took our fancy at the time (Judge Dredd showed up a lot, I remember). We became friends and met up outside school — in fact, several of us remained good friends for many years after school, only gradually drifting apart as we settled into different jobs, relationships and the like. You know, all that stuff that people do when they’re not kids any more.
So I’d have thought, reflecting on my school situation, that there’d have been little reason for me to hide the existence of my door. If people like my friends wouldn’t have understood, no-one would’ve (apart from you, obviously, Chris¹). Whatever reason I had for closing that door, it wasn’t them. Perhaps it was simply a matter of time and focus. Perhaps the demands of school life (‘demands’ — hah. I can just imagine my science teachers’ reaction to the idea that I faced ‘demands’ at school…) meant that my focus just shifted away from the door to other things.
Or maybe there’s something else; something that, for now, I’m just not remembering.
I don’t know. But whatever the reason was, the door got closed. And it stayed very firmly so for a great many years. It got quite overgrown, I think, and sank into my memory, into a tangle of other stuff that obscured it almost entirely. Only recently — say over the last five years or so — have I started to hear the rustling and the tapping again, the creaking and, maybe occasionally, now and then, the rattling of the latch.
I can pull aside some of the tangles and reveal parts of it: the old, knotted timber, the black metal studs and that heavy, twisted handle. I can reach out for that handle and very nearly touch it — but not quite. Other things get in the way. I’ve spent too long in a place of be sensible and common sense and everyone knows. I’ve lost sight of they say and what if and why not. These are the branches that still lie across the way.
But I think they could be cleared. I feel more sure of that than I have in a long time.
– – – – –
(¹ Not that I hold grudges, or anything.)