The Front Door


We had a large oversized front door at our house on the hill, overlooking the Pacific. It was majestic. It was heavy. It was decorated with large wrought iron bolts and the tiny window was set up high so we could see who was knocking with the large heavy knocker.

We had to slam it to get it to stick shut, otherwise, we would wake up in the mornings and it would be swung open wide. Lizards would sneak in – one time, a raccoon. Sometimes, in the days of “just stopping by”, folks would come to our door unannounced and step in to call our names – because it had popped open through the day. Often we weren’t home and would come home to the wide open door and a note sitting under the doormat.

When it was closed and our guests were leaving, it would stick – it was our duty to escort them to the door, as we should, and jiggle and yank until it opened. A fire hazard, perhaps, but we were all well trained early on how to open and close this door, to get out “in case of emergency”.

A few times, while barefoot, it would fly open due to my tugging, towards my feet, and scrape heavily over the top of my foot due to the few inches gap. There would be bruising, scrapes, blood, crying…and as I became a teenager, curses my parents never taught me – every time. You would have thought I would have learned how to avoid this, but like all of us, sometimes you don’t.

This was back when lemon Snapple was the most coveted drink in the vending machine at school and Murder She Wrote aired on Sunday night TV.

Along with the cursing moments, came an 11pm curfew. The hall light was the signal, when we turned it off, that we were home, and my parents could see and hear it from their bedroom. It also made a loud click, as everything in our house was loud and echoed, just like the closing of the front door. Not only did the light alert them, but so did the loud slam of the front door behind us.

When I decided that 11pm was too early to lock myself in, I would come through a little bit earlier, slam the door behind me, shut off the light.

The turnaround was quick; I’d tip toe back down the stairs barefoot, and hop out of the unlocked french window in the dining room to the front courtyard.

We would lie on the front grass, he would smoke his weed and hold my hand and play with my hair. Sometimes one of us would cry. Sometimes we ate a peanut butter and jelly and chips in the dark and sipped a wine cooler he’d have tucked in the back of the van.

“Have you ever tried to dance to UB40’s Red Red Wine?” we’d mull over.  It’s nearly impossible. It is a catchy song, we love it, sing along, but it is impossible to really dance to.

“Same goes for Sweet Child O’ Mine”  I’d say – and he’d turn to look at me and say incredulously – “You can TOTALLY dance to Sweet Child O’Mine.”  I proved him wrong by pointing out that we NEVER danced to it. We always kept the song on repeat with our feet propped up at the beach in the van, at the highest decibel, right before distortion. If you could dance to it, we would have.

Later, usually around one, two or three, I would sneak back in the French window, with him hoisting me up, both hands under my thighs, followed by a final quick pat on my bum to say goodbye, before disappearing.

I was technically home on time.

Memory Layne