Locking Doors

I have a hard time locking doors,

or even closing them,

I don’t trust them to protect me

I don’t believe in them.

To me, a deadbolt is a talisman;

a signal to the universe,

a prayer for protection:

I’m locking this door with the hopes

that what I want to stay out will not come in

it feels like a superstition

because really…

As a child, my mother’s insanity permeated our home, wrapped about us like a cloak, charging the air. You could feel it when you walked up our steps that someone crazy lives here. The shadowy forms my mother was afraid of would not be stopped by a locked door. She was always ready for the windows to be busted, waiting for the door to get kicked off the hinges. I had no idea who our attackers were supposed to be, but I had a hunch that they would end up needing my protection. I believed she would kill them. It would make her feel… accomplished. A rapist, a serial killer, kidnappers, some demented being who deserved to die; she was waiting for them.

She would fall asleep in the broken green recliner facing the front door night after night. She didn’t need a weapon; she fantasized about strangling them with her bare hands. The physical manifestations of her internal tormentors finally come to validate living a life under siege. My mother had watched way too many John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. And people in our neighborhoods did get attacked, robbed, raped and intimidated. Ex-husbands appeared in the middle of the night, crackheads crawled in through the bathroom window, the Eastside, then Southside, then Northside Rapist scaled walls to the second story patio…and a locked door did what to protect them? It was all very real, and yet, it never happened to us; a mother alone with two children, doors and windows wide open. I believed it was because she was that damn crazy.

So I forget to close doors sometimes, and I definitely don’t have a habit of locking them. As a young adult, it was and wasn’t a challenge: You want what I’ve got, well I dare you to try and take it. But, really, there’s nothing here you’d want. All of my belongings only have value to me, and you can’t have me, I’ll kill you if you try, so really, why would you bother?

That was part of my mother’s reasoning: when you are poor, people breaking into your home aren’t there for a stereo. The people locked inside the box where the valuables. An unlocked door was an acknowledgement of purpose and battle; cross this threshold and anything could happen.

Once I became a mom, I had to change. I still didn’t have much faith in locking a door. I did it because I was supposed to, it would be irresponsible not to. When I brought my first son home from the hospital, I used the door chain for the first time ever. I also knew I couldn’t generate the same force-field as my mother, I wasn’t crazy enough, and that scared me. I felt as if my children were exposed.

So I prayed. At night before I fell asleep I would ask the universe for help and a goddess would place her foot on the roof of my home. She stood guard as I willed her into being, 50 feet tall, starlit and watching. A giant woman of light and energy would stand above my babies’ beds, unwavering in her defense until I woke up in the morning.

…today, my children often lock our front door
before I remind myself to.
And I wonder if I have failed them.
No, I tell myself, they are just being rational;
Raised by a sane person.
For me though, it’s still a form of magic.
When I bolt the door,
there is still a tinge of superstition;
a prayer of gratitude:
Thank you for the protection.
Thank you for being a solid boundary.
Thank you for being the first line of defense
so I don’t have to be.

Locking Doors