“The door to wherever you most want to be. All you have to do is learn how to float.”
Picture and Caption by Michael Marshall Smith ©
THE DOOR TO WHERE YOU WISH TO BE
I always knew the door existed.
But I really didn’t expect to find it in downtown Reykjavík. It’s a city that looks like no other. It’s as if the countryside decided to grow houses instead of trees. And they’re of all color and sizes, all so different from each other, some even a little bit peculiar. There are haunted houses right beside the happiest cots in the world and run down shacks among the more expensive looking mansions.
No, mansions is the wrong word. There are no mansions in Iceland. Because even if you’d want to build one, it would immediately revert into a house, a big house, but still a house. There can be no mansions in Iceland, and no castles; the cold and the frost won’t allow it. Mother nature doesn’t allow it and the landscape doesn’t care for it. It grows grumpy and wakes up its worst spirits to maul it down or turn it into something it didn’t use to be.
Maybe the house the door belonged to, although in truth the house belonged to the door, was one of those houses? A house built with such gusto that the old landwards decided to do something about it. There are still four Landwards, although the dragon is looking a bit decrepit these days. They sent all the powers of the land to make sure this house, pardon me – the door – stayed within its premisses and didn’t take over the country, and maybe the entire world.
It was a powerful door and I needed to find it. Because I knew what it opened.
I wasn’t looking for it particularly that day though. I had gone out to look for it before, but it was very unexpected to find that door, on that particular house, on that particular night.
It was hiding, I’ll give you that.
And I was drunk.
I guess it wouldn’t have happened any other way, huh?
I had been on a monumental pub crawl. One that started early in the day and lasted most of the night. I had been to places I believed had vanished years ago with declining economy and bad weather. Somewhere in the night I lost my friends, flirted with a guy, made out with his girlfriend and was kicked out of that particular pub for causing a scene.
Prudes. Just when a girl starts to have fun they throw her out? That too seems to be a law of nature.
So I stumbled out of the place, too drunk to protest and I found myself in a neighborhood in Reykjavík I didn’t recall ever having been to before. It was one of those strange places where you couldn’t actually see the horizon, a very rare occurrence in Reykjavík, and it made me a bit puzzled and a bit queasy.
I wanted to find another pub to dive into, because although I knew in my heart of hearts that I had had enough, I still wanted more. Always want more. Until the next day when I promise: Never again.
Until next time.
I hurled into a bush, apologized to the shrub and moved on, wiping my mouth on the jacket sleeve. It was a bit cold and I was wearing just a short skirt and a leather jacket, but I wasn’t shivering so I decided I’d walk a little, find a hint of sobriety before I threw down another shot of tequila.
I don’t quite recall how I got behind that particular house. There was something about it that both pulled me to it, but also pushed me away. It was like one of those rollercoaster lovers, the people you’re constantly breaking up with but can’t ever stay away from, because they’re perfect and infuriating at the same time.
Except this was a house, not someone who looked hot in pilot shades.
Yet I moved around it, stroking the walls. It was painted in a slow yellow color. The exterior rough and unkempt. I rounded a corner and noticed the old tethered wood in the frames of the cellar windows, that had bars on them. Black, prison-like bars that were meant to keep people out, or keep people in, depending on what side you were. I rounded another corner, keeping my hand on the concrete wall, not so much for the support anymore but for the feel of the stone underneath my fingers. And there it was. On the backside.
There was no real garden, only a few flowers in a run-down flower pot on badly managed paving-stones. There was weed growing between the step stones. A dandelion was defying the cold weather, it stood alone blooming in the cold dark. I stood for a while, watching it, feeling like I was suddenly standing before god, all warm and pious.
Or perhaps I just needed to hurl again.
That’s when I noticed the color of the house, and the door.
There was a change in the color on this side of the house. A brown line had been painted on the concrete. The happy yellow color continued above the line, but below it had been painted in a drab, depressing green color which seemed to want to push me to the edge of the world, and then it would leave me there, shouting: “STAY!” really loudly.
And there it was.
It was like that feeling when you see someone you know you’ll love for the first time. That glance. You notice them and you may not think the thought then, but something within you starts floating and smiling and you can’t help but to be drawn towards them, even if you try to fight it you’re drawn to them and if you’re lucky: they to you, and there is a dance and then, somewhere in the future, maybe a kiss. A moment of sheer bliss before the days turn to slow, wonderfully grey, mush.
It was that kind of feeling. Love at first sight, deep within me and I knew that this was the door I’d always known I’d find.
I know how that sounds, but I promise, it wasn’t just the nausea and the alcohol. It had been a running joke with me as a kid, me running up to mom as a toddler pointing at doors, shouting “this is NOT it,” angrily in my childish voice. Mom looking at me with her puzzled look, wondering what on earth went through the kids head when she said things like that. But I knew, I always knew, that I’d find it sooner or later.
The only problem was that it was very high up on the wall. I couldn’t reach it. But it was there, it was brown, worn as if someone used it every day, except the doorknob had fallen off and the door knocker, I knew had been there once upon a time, was gone as well and in its stead was just a foul mark.
And for a little while I grieved for its better days.
Remember, I was very drunk.
I stood there, in the backyard of some house staring up at it and then something incredible started to happen.
I would call it a miracle, except I always knew that I would be able to walk through that door. And since the door was so high up in the air the only way for me to get up there was to float.
I know, there are stairs and other ways to climb to get to things that are high up. I was drunk, but not too stupid. What do you think would have happened had I started to look for stairs that someone might have left in their backyard, so that I could climb it to get to the door, in the middle of the night?
I’d be sent to prison. Quickly. Or better yet, the white rock ward.
I knew, even in my inebriated state, that it was now or never. I couldn’t go and come back later. I would never find it again and if, for some unbelievable reason I would find the place again the door wouldn’t be there. It would have moved on, like a decent one night stand.
And so I started floating.
I’m quite sure that if I hadn’t been drunk, I would not have pulled that off. But at first it was easy. I stood there and I wished myself towards the door. I knew what awaited me on the other side, because the door led to the place where you most want to be.
Floating is a strange thing, and it took a while to get a handle of it. It wasn’t just going upwards, defying gravity, to get to the door. It was more complicated than that. You had to unwish the earth a little. You had to unwish it until you parted with it, and got lifted up into the air. Then I had to want the air underneath my feet, not be afraid. And that was just to get elevated. Then I had to steer myself towards the door, and that wasn’t easy. Especially drunk, I fear, though I can’t see me doing any of this without the alcohol in my blood.
Getting towards the door was hard, and there was a lot of giggling involved and a lot of wishing, and a lot of remembering old wishes, wishes that were no more. I had to dismiss them, send them packing, because you wouldn’t want to bring old wishes, something that once was inside you, but you didn’t have room for anymore.
When I had really formed the wish in my head, accompanied by more giggling, I was in front of the door. I could touch it, feel it, but there was no knob, no door handle. I couldn’t open it.
I tried to push it open and I tried to get a hold of the timber with my fingertips and pull, but nothing happened.
So I had to think, and thinking when you’re drunk is hard, you get sidetracked – like a small child: “Look! Candy!” but I floated in front of it thinking what would happen if someone saw me. Would I plunge to the ground and hurt myself? Or would I be able to keep afloat and continue the task at hand?
In the end I had to ask myself properly, what exactly opens a door to the place where you want to be?
And it came to me as I feared I was going to puke, and I started to think of all the things I did not want and I sent them as far from me as I could and at the same time I owned them. Like the time I kissed my boss five years ago.
There were countless moments like that.
And in the end the door slowly started to open. And after just a little while I was able to wish myself inside, or float if you will.
And then I stepped outside.
I sometimes wonder if this is death. But if it is, it’s wonderful. It’s like being wonderfully, joyfully, drunk all the time, with all the upsides and none of the downsides. You’re true to yourself, joyful and you say the things you want to say and do the things you want to do, no matter how silly.
And they’re all here, you know? All the people I carelessly wished for, back on the other side of the door. All the people I felt I missed, but didn’t know, you know? And all the people I lost, that I never wanted to loose.
And the best part is that the others, the people you never wanted to be around, their somewhere else entirely. All the time.
I stumbled upon the door in a state of inebriation and sometimes I think that I just fell over in an alley and kicked the bucket. It was a strange form of drunkenness though. I was clear, and I guess we often are when we’re drunk – clear in a way that makes no sense to sober people – and usually you forget everything about it when you wake up the next morning. You get up and you can’t remember where you left your phone, whom you insulted or the name of the bloke in your bed.
This was different though and it remains clear in my memory as if I am watching myself from the outside, looking in on me, not just what I did in my physical body but what I thought. And they’re all here, the souls that were supposed to be around me, but for some reason were not. And we live in the mountains, or on top of them, they are grey and tall and filled with high trees, and I don’t know what lies beyond or below. Maybe nothing? Maybe everything.
I feel I am a part of the others, as if we’re one, all of us, especially him and I, or perhaps he’s a she? I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter. And I wonder why he wasn’t on the other side of the door. Or perhaps he was, in a hundred forms, waiting for me to find one of him, or her, so they could all collide and join and be. Sometimes I think that’s why there are so many people on earth now. Because we’ve multiplied for better ways of finding our true counterpart. Except the soul deteriorates from being apart from itself.
I sometimes look at it. Because it’s there. The door. It’s there and you can go back. It’s not like they said back there, that you can never go back. You can. But who would want to? Who would want to leave the joy that this unity brings? Unity and yet there is a strong, proper I. Who would want to leave the joy of this freedom to be whatever you ARE?
Whatever you are NOW, and not yesterday or tomorrow. Who would want to leave this place that allows you to be all that you ever were, at all times? All your changed selves, all combined in one creature.
It’s hard to describe. And maybe I did die in an alley somewhere, wondering why the houses all looked so cheerful and smiling. Perhaps I heard the voices as they found me, but were unable to revive me. Perhaps I almost remember someones voice as they said their last goodbye to me.
Perhaps, but they’re here now, so what does it matter?
I found my door. The one I always knew I’d find and all I had to do was to learn how to float.
© Eygló 2016