Doorways, huh? You know ‘em, you love ‘em, you walk through ‘em on a daily basis. We spend our life in a vast series of revolving doors, don’t we? I’m not being metaphorical here, I’m not referring to doorways in the sense of walking in and out of job positions, relationships, major life events, ways to finding a new version of yourself. I’m just talking about actual doorways. At the front or back of a building, the step over the threshold into someone’s home, a classroom, an office. Because that’s all they are, in actual fact, just a means to get from outside in and inside out.
But they have come to mean so much to us, haven’t they? Time and time again in this issue you will see doorways being used as a symbol for something much greater than the knock knock can we come in its bloody freezing out here. Doorways, within this issue and without, stand for much more – they stand for sex, they stand for relationships between people, they stand for a change between the internal self and the outside, they stand for first impressions, they stand for everything. As with most things, humans have taken a perfectly good physical feature around since caveman times to keep out the wind and the lions and the bugs and decked a ten-tonne of emotion and philosophy and meaning on it. We really do need to stop doing that (but only after this issue, because the metaphors and symbols in here are really quite good, so make sure to read on).
Watch out, here, reader, because I’m about to do it – I’m about to mention the C word – because doorways have taken on even more of a mythical significance in this new era of plague. I know, I know, you’ll be relieved with this pandemic lark is all over, not just because you miss your grandmother and you miss going out for a tall and handsome drink of something fruity and alcoholic surrounded by friends in a bar of people rather than walking germ sacs, but because you’ll finally be free of me bringing it up in every single editor letter. But the thing is, we’re – me and you – living through a major historical event, so I’ll be damned if I don’t capitalise on it. Do you think the papers during World War 2 just stopped mentioning the war, because ‘it really has gone on a bit long, now?’ No way, Jose. The thing about living through a major historical event, as my four years of an English degree have shown me, is that it colours everything – everything – produced during it, to an extent. All the literature, all the art, all the songs, are all touched in some way or another by the world around them in regular times, and this is brought up to eleven in times of dramatic upheaval and crisis, of which this year (two years? Eight years? Fifty years? How long has this gone on for, now?) is definitely one. Books set in the sun, surrounded by physical intimacy and relationships conducted face-to-face (remember that? Uch.)? Escapist fantasies, designed for you to step into away from the harsh dullness of six-foot separation and masks and online first dates. Songs talking about loneliness, isolation? Well, I don’t really need to explain that, but this pandemic has been, for a lot of us, the longest time we’ve spent alone without our large planetary circles of close friends and family by our sides. Everything is touched by it, everything. And this issue is no exception.
Because, for the vast majority of the human population, we have been confined to the most limited number of doorways to enter in and out of in a long, long while. They centre, largely, around the sliding doors of Sainsburys, your own front door, and if you were lucky for that slice of warmth in the summer where we all seemed to experience a collective hallucination that Covid was a thing confined solely to March and April 2020, maybe the door of a restaurant, a coffee shop, or a friend’s house. And on our larger metaphorical scale, the doorways seem welded closed like never before. The threshold into new relationships, platonic or romantic, are barred by distancing and lack of face-to-face communication. The threshold from university into employment is glued closed as, say it with me, the economy is in a total downward spiral and there’s nothing out there! For the moment, we are all trapped inside the house, literally and figuratively, and the doorways will not let us out. They’ve unionised, they’ve organised, the time of the doorways’ rule of the universe has begun.
As with most things, when we can’t have it, we spend an awful lot of time thinking about it. Front door steps and cold door handles that we skipped over and pushed without a care in the world, without a second glance, now consume our thoughts entirely – we cannot stop thinking about the curve of their metal, the patterns imprinted on the doormat. We consider them with new eyes, what they mean to us, what they can offer us, what it will be like to step over them once more, when we can.
And this issue, like all BRIZO issues, takes this cultural and social magnification and steps it up a notch, as the brilliant authors and artists and creators within its pages reconstruct beautiful, glistening doorways, as if we’ve stepped into the bastard lovechild of the Monsters Inc. factory and the Palace of Versailles. There – a golden door into a world of spices and painted houses and little girls dreaming of the streets below! There – a silver, sleek one, like the first step into the Shard, full of sharp, humorous prose about first impressions. There – one painted a glossy red, inlaid with pink roses, from which behind you can smell candles burning and hear lover’s laughter. Our authors and artists, brilliant humans they are, not only discuss doorways every which way, both in their physical and metaphorical state, but give you a million ones to walk through. Into the worlds of their minds, into the soaring ceilings and richly carpeted floors of their prose, of their paint strokes. You, you lucky so-and-so, have been given something back by the creators of this magazine – the ability to walk through a threshold into a new place, a place other than the four square walls of your kitchen, a place other than the aimless empty shelves of Sainsburys. They’ve given you the opportunity to travel, to step through to another world.
Well, what are you waiting for, then?
Cover by Alcira Hava and Jade Fagersten