Saturday, July 21, 2012

Love was a Black Door

There’s a sweet, tiny, little square house in the middle of a neighborhood of other similar tiny square houses that holds some of my most precious memories. It was a house not big enough to hold much else, but luckily memories aren’t the kind of things that have to be stored in closets or stacked in cabinets…or packed away when you move. Memories from these days are memories of beginnings. I loved my job as a high school English teacher, and my husband was beginning his work as a Nashville police officer, and we were newly married and living in our college town, responsible for only each other and our dog. I had no idea, then, how much those days were responsible for creating us as a family, welding us into a oneness as dresses and black tshirts all squished into tiny closets together, as we waited impatiently at the single bathroom door, as we meshed our lives together to transform his tiny college house into our home.

These were days of drop in friends, silly parties, spontaneous trips, and falling asleep on the couch while I waited on him to get home from work. We got married the day after Thanksgiving because his schedule would be even more unpredictable after graduating the police academy in December. Along the way, we learned to get used to him working crazy shifts with different days off, and we had to learn how to be patient and understanding with each other... which was sometimes accomplished by failing to be patient or understanding and then trying to do better.

And it was in one of these days that he painted the front door black. The architecture of the front of the house consisted of the front door and two windows. One of the windows had an arch over it, so it was our fancy window. The front door had been primed white, but never painted, and it really, REALLY needed painting. My idea was to paint it black to match the shutters, and to keep it from showing dirt so easily, and one day I came home from work to my sweet husband putting the final coat of black paint on our front door as a surprise to me. I was so, so happy that he was so, so thoughtful to spend his day off painting the door simply because he knew it was something I wanted. But I was also just a little dismayed that I came home just in time to see him putting the finishing strokes of black paint on the INSIDE of the front door. The outside looked great painted black, clean and welcoming and new. But the inside looked, well, pretty awful. The wall was taupe, the trim was white, and the black door was not just ugly, it was also scary. Every time I glanced toward the front wall, I had to swallow a small scream because it looked just like the door was wide open, and it was the deepest, darkest middle of the night (even if the fancy arched window clearly showed daytime sunshine streaming in.)

But the black door stayed the black door because was so pleased at his effort to surprise me that I certainly couldn’t tell him how awful I thought the black front door was. And every time I looked at the front door (after I convinced myself the door was closed), I knew that he painted that door black because HE loved ME, and I didn’t tell him how horrible it was because I loved HIM, and all that love would always make me smile... even if I had an ugly black front door.

I don’t know how many months I waited before I told him that I had never intended for the inside of the door to be black and how awful I thought it was, but it was long enough that we both laughed like crazy over it. And we laughed it every time one of us jumped up to close the door that was already closed and locked up for the night.

We never painted the door back white, and although I’m not usually very sentimental, I don’t think I would have wanted to, because in that tiny little square house with the fancy arched window, love was a black front door.

And now we live in a bigger house with more than one bathroom, and our friends call before they come over, and spontaneous trips include an extra fun little boy and extra fun times waiting for Ryder. But sometimes I long for those early days when we were becoming us, while we were living in that sweet, tiny house with the ugly black door. (But if you read this, Cody, love in our current house is most definitely a white front door. Maybe a white front door and a surprise date to eat Italian food. :)

(Picture taken in front of our black door at a Halloween party where our college friends dressed up and came to the house to eat together and hand out candy to our trick or treaters.)


  1. Replies
    1. It makes you laugh because you remember being startled by the 'open door' at random times, too! I plan to be very specific about my ideas for the remodeling of this new house :)

  2. You and Cody were and are the sweetest, cutest, funniest couple. I miss you! Love ya, Lois

    1. Thanks, Lois! We sure did get lots of love and support from some pretty fun ladies I worked with. You are part of the reason that I miss teaching sometimes. Love ya!

  3. I love this story and I love reading your blog! :)
    Cousin Laura

    1. Thanks, Laura! It's fun to write whatever I want, whenever I want and not have due dates or grades to be concerned with. I was hoping you would get to make it to the Cookie Jar Cafe with your mom last week. Hope to see you soon!


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