Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gates (#3)

The problem with gates is that they hold in as much as they keep out. It's nice to think of keeping your life private -- building walls, tending hidden gardens, closing off the things beyond your control -- but it's also a bit lonely. (I should know. I tend to gate up and go into emotional lockdown when things get too hectic.) With gates come locks and with locks come keys and with keys come questions of who gets one, can it be copied and what happens if you lose it?

I once lived in an apartment that had an exterior gate with a padlock. If you got in the gate, you had to walk across a pretty big garden to reach my front door. There was no doorbell, no buzzer, no possible way to get my attention. If someone was coming to visit they'd arrange a time and I'd open the lock. Otherwise, it stayed closed and absolutely impenetrable.

It was great at first. There were no Jehovah's Witnesses early on Sunday morning. There were no kids selling magazine subscriptions for school fundraisers. Neighbors didn't bug me to borrow sugar and UPS guys didn't make me sign for someone else's Amazon box. There was absolutely no interruption of whatever it was that I found so important to be doing alone behind a padlock.

But after awhile I started to feel a little like Rapunzel. No interruptions meant, well, no interruptions. I had plenty of alone time in that place. I had lots of time to write the great American novel and learn to meditate -- neither of which I did. There was nothing spontaneous or unplanned. No trick-or-treaters, no Christmas carolers, no hopeful little ones holding Unicef donation cans for Jerry's Kids. There were no girl scouts to brighten a depressing day with lifesaving thin mints. No old boyfriends stopped by with flowers. No new friends introduced themselves.

Now, my family lives in a house with no front gate. Some days the doorbell rings six or seven times which delights my social butterfly daughter to no end, even if it's just a meter reader asking me to tie up the dogs in the back yard. We are utterly powerless to keep people from intruding and, oddly, it feels more cozy that way.

This week, I examine some of South Pasadena's more picturesque gates. (And possibly use the photos to get a little philosophical.)


Judy Williams said...

What a majestic gate!!

You took the metaphorical gate scenario and really opened it up. We always hear about "people putting up walls," but gating one's self in, is the same thing.

I think when you open up, whether on an emotional or literal level, there are some surprising things that come through, which otherwise might be missed. They are the ones that make you have that cozy feeling, in addition to the unfiltered ones that may not be as satisfying. It's worth the risk!

Michelle said...


Anonymous said...

I live I a gated place and you're right, it is isolating. Great shot and post today.

Patricia said...

Great post today, Laurie. I was feeling pretty sad for you in that apartment, lol. It is lovely to live in a neighborhood where the doorbell rings and it will most likely be for a happy reason. Just one of South Pasadena's many charms.

Jon said...

Laurie, Laurie, let down your hair. I was feeling pretty sad for you too. Recall that old door had a space where UPS could slide packages through underneath. It was a bit like a prison door, you know, the kind for the really dangerous. The new door is much nicer. Great photo.

San Diego Farmgirl said...

Your old boyfriends stop by with flowers? ;o)

Laurie said...

Farmgirl, well not anymore!

Shanna said...

Though the back of our house is open to hillsides and trees and the whole sky with a VIEW that has got to be unequalled, the small front area is fenced and gated.

NO ONE knocks without calling first. It is much like the apartment experience you describe.

Here sits Rapunzel, camera or computer at hand. So, I sometimes just go sit in my car out front. And there are smiling neighbors and
kids on bikes...

You have really identified that cloistered feeling. Weren't you thinking of coming over, Laurie? Better call first, though. I might be terrified if the doorbell rang.

Arguing Guy said...

Gates... Hmmmm..

Here's the association that is conjured for me:

"He swung like a front gate. He could swing man... He could swing..."

Anonymous said...

Laughing at the image of Jon calling to Laurie under her gate.


Anonymous said...

There's the Italian house. Rather, the Italian house garden.