The vodka heavily clouds my judgement as I lead him out of the elevator, stringing him along with one hand while the other fumbles around in my purse for my keys. I can’t stop giggling, laughing, contemplating the adventure upon which I am about to embark, almost childishly enjoying the anticipation more than what is ahead of me in the form of the door to my apartment. Still unsuccessful in my search for my keys I mumble a frustrated “fuck” under my breath, the frown lines in my face making themselves increasingly more prominent as my inebriated alter ego attempts to appear effortlessly unbothered and capable of completing an otherwise simple task.
He sees how momentarily frustrated I am before he grabs my face, tilts my chin up with his middle and index fingers and presses me up against the door to kiss me – intermittently playing with my hair to calm me down. Even in the unflattering fluorescent lights, where the stains on my clothes after a long night of having drinks spilled upon me are becoming visible, I have a thought cross my mind that I almost want to stay here forever. I feel the coolness of the wood up against my skin where my leather jacket slightly slouches off of my shoulder, and we’re kissing passionately but I’m still smiling like an idiot. I finally successfully find something in my purse, the key jabbing into my palm as I attempt to open the door behind my back just to stay in that position a second longer. When (after a few attempts) the door finally does open, I pause and laugh, “Is this when you’re supposed to carry me over the threshold into our home mi amor?”
Perplexed, he looks at me for a second. Perhaps the word towers is more accurate. He towers over me, just about 27 cm taller (that’s around a foot for those of you who use that measurement system) and laughs when the alcohol stops impairing his thoughts and he finally gets it. They always find it extra endearing when you call them mi amor and stress the hispanic accent (despite really sounding like you’re Hillary from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air). He leans down to kiss me again, this time lifting me up so I can wrap my legs around him and uses the frame of the door as support.
Together we cross the threshold, molded into one human being, with my arms around his neck, and my face buried deeply into his in an ecstatic thirst for more. Here, I find myself experiencing a feeling of oneness, togetherness, something I probably won’t even feel later on in the night as we supposedly meld into one, according to Biblical scripture, that is. The intimacy of crossing from the outside world into the private confines of my home, where our business becomes truly ours – where one world ends and another begins, where there is no one else there and nobody else you want (unless you’re like me and everyone you date seems to be obsessed with their exes). All complications aside, the fact that you both want each other so desperately is the only thing that matters. It really is a moment you have to share with someone like that in order to understand the true significance of a bride being swept off of her feet and carried into a new home.
I wasn’t carried across the threshold like a squeaky clean bride in a white dress, hell, my skirt was going to have to go in the wash a good three times to remove some of the damage accumulated across the night. I was far from being the picture of virginity and innocence as I let the guy who bought me drinks and lent me his lighter carry me into my home, both of us smelling like a mixture of cigarettes, alcohol, sweat, and sexually charged uncertainty. They say that when a bride is carried over the threshold after her wedding, it is with the purpose of warding off evil spirits, and in that giddy excitedness where we look into one another’s eyes and breathe that uncertainty in, shaking in excitement at what’s ahead, in that wonderful, weird moment, we leave (or at least attempt to leave) our demons at the door. This comes perhaps with the idea that when we face that same doorway the following day, we know that everything will be different.
When I say “different” I don’t really mean that sex changes who you are fundamentally as an individual – I mean, I really don’t think that’s the case. Not that sex isn’t important or an exchange of energy that can very drastically affect your mood, but it doesn’t change your mental makeup unless you give it that importance. When you’re at the doorway the following morning though, with a hangover from hell, your body aching all over, and light from the sun you just cannot mentally deal with hitting you directly in the eye, you now know something that the rest of the world does not. Call me a Gemini or whatever, but I find it thrilling. Crossing the threshold back into the world after an intimate encounter can feel both like the most disappointing and fulfilling experience at once. I mean, God knows I’ve been there for either case.
The exchanges you share at a doorway are almost their own form of purgatory, a place of limbo, a physical landmark that defines where one thing starts and another begins. No one goes to a place to stand in the doorway, but it serves as a portal – a place for awkward chit chat or an overextended goodbye, a place where two (or more) people stand with nowhere to lean, with either not enough, or way too much to say. They mark a clear inside and outside in your world, and inviting someone to join you on the other side of the doorway carries a sense of weight. Most good stories, I find, start with a doorway – a place that is treated like a nonexistent background character but is so heavily omnipresent in our lives that we forget the adrenaline rush that it is to take someone’s hand and grant them your trust by putting yourself into their own space, or letting them into yours.
The fact of the matter is that when you accept the request to go into a space, to go past the doorway, there is a shared vulnerability, a union created between two people that carries almost mythic significance. Doorways are symbols of rebirth, powerful vacuums, the border between realities, simultaneously sinister and hopeful. From them, unbreakable bonds can be created, and intimate experiences explored.
Now, by no means am I saying that every one night stand is a life altering experience. Welcoming someone into your room, your home, a hotel room, it doesn’t seem too complex and sometimes it really isn’t – but there’s something fascinating about changing the dynamic between yourself and a perfect stranger that comes with welcoming them into your space. Walking through that doorway together marks an odyssey of intimacy, deep chit chat, falling asleep next to someone with whom you feel so close even if it’s only for a moment. The doorway marks a change, it formulates a wholly different relationship, and more importantly it’s a powerful tool that creates a new version of yourself.
Across mythologies and art from multiple civilizations and across time, many cultures, religions, and stories replicate the idea of a liminal God, someone protecting thresholds or a threshold more specifically. Perhaps most interestingly is the idea that the Virgin Mary is used as a doorway herself (a magical plot device if you want to read Catholicism that way). She births Christ, the son of God, with her body simply serving as a transition period or portal through which greater things are then achieved. For this reason, she achieves holy status not just as our universal mother, but as her own entity. Mary was so powerful in and of herself that to date she is one of the most venerated figures of the Catholic religion, with Cathedrals, icons, and statues illustrating her, with individuals claiming that she visits them and makes her own appearances and canonizes them by proxy. The “Salve Porta” is the deity you talk to, communicate with, the doorway to salvation – she’s the one to whom you pray your rosaries and from whom you beg for mercy. Through Mary is the beginning of Catholicism, a beacon of hope, a physical and metaphysical doorway to an entirely new realm. She reigns the intimate, the domestic, the warmth that comes with crossing that portal into a state of spiritual vulnerability and openness.
Crossing a boundary, a threshold, means being open to being a new person and all that comes attached to opening yourself up to a new experience. Nothing changes really until you take the hands of fate (or perhaps those of Mary herself) and the opportunity to dive into a separate realm, or if it is in the case of an intimate encounter, into the soul and the arms of another. The vulnerability of coming into contact with a liminal deity strips you down to your most basic, authentic self – and from this, the energy of the person taking you in can fill you in ways you cannot imagine beforehand. Intimacy is a doorway in and of itself if you think about it that way, and standing at that doorway can be the marking point for a world of opportunities. What matters is whether you choose to delve into them or not. Maybe that’s why I find the idea of a doorway so exciting.t’s the prospect of reinventing who you are, a portal into who you can be, who you can be with someone else, and who you become once you’ve had an encounter and are released into the outside world again. The ambiguity is endlessly fascinating.
Art by Desiree Finlayson