We stepped out of the hotel a few days ago, glanced at a door together, and Lauren and I looked at each other, each pulling out a camera. We would and did take many photos of many doors throughout our wandering in the city, both of us dazzled by ornate stone carvings, archways with Hobbit-like wooden doors and other varieties of entry from the outside to the inside.
Why doors? Why not? I mean, they just grab your attention like the eyes that we see first when meeting someone new. And the doors of the city are so beautiful, sexy, intriguing and downright gorgeous, grabbing our eyes enough to make us continually fish out the camera.They’re also full and made of history and stories.
There’s also the mystery: what is behind that door? Who lives there? What is their life like? What could they be eating right now at the kitchen table while looking at the paper, or are they petting some spoiled kitty cats while complaining about the political landscape?
As for our landscape, we found doors of wonder in Midtown, near the Cloisters way up north, close to the Staten Island ferry at the southern tip of the island, in the East Village, in the West Village, in Chelsea of course (where the doors are especially well-appointed), and downtown, uptown and in between. We also found the entryway that leads toward a door we knew well: that of our father’s stamp store, located once in the subway arcade. No matter that it was locked and closed, mostly out of business since 9/11 (our dad’s store is just three blocks away). It’s home for us in some sense, and so I have many pictures of me standing under this sign. The stairs below this sign lead down to the small store with the stone floor that I once dove into at age five, leading my parents and me back up in a hurry to get Frankenstein-like stitches across my forehead.
As for other doors, and door-watching, there’s something very comforting and fascinating at once about looking for a beautiful door. It’s a way to mark where we are, to take in the wonders small and private or large and public. The art of the door also speaks to some longing for beauty in the everyday: a threshold we can cross from out to in or in to out, a small rite of passage in the ordinary that reminds us how so much of life is about such passages.