Secret doors

I’ve always had a thing about secret doors.

I think it comes from reading the Chronicles of Narnia as a child, possibly back to back with The Secret Garden.

There is an incredible feeling of hope and possibility that comes from a secret door, that feeling that anything could be behind it, a whole new world could be just a few inches away.

When I was young, I believed absolutely in the power of my mind to make the secrets on the other side of doors come true. I knew I could make it happen, if only I could totally suspend any doubt and embrace the idea completely. The world was there on the other side of the door, if only I could harness its power.

Quite often I would get into a wardrobe and deliberately try to disorientate myself, try to imagine the snow crunching beneath my feet, the air turning crisp, biting at my cheeks. I would hold my hands out just a little bit in front of me and try to feel the branches of trees rather than the sleeves of shirts.

When I was about seven, we lived in Weymouth, and in the bedroom I shared with my sister we had a cupboard. It was a tall cupboard, with a door about six feet high. This door, I was sure, was magical. Behind this door though wasn’t a secret world, but a secret bedroom.

The memory of what I imagined to be behind this door is incredibly vivid. My secret bedroom didn’t have windows, or any doors other than the one you entered by. There were no lights that I remember, but it wasn’t dark – it had a cave like gloom, but a sort of glow about it, so you could see just fine. Pride of place in the room was a big four-poster bed with swathes of fabric sweeping dramatically from corner to corner. If I’d have taken it a little further there would have been talking cartoon birds.

The only other piece of furniture was a dressing table – the low type that you could sit down at, and gaze into the huge mirror, surrounded by glass perfume bottles and silver backed hair brushes. There was nothing else in the room that I remember, but lying in bed, staring at the door, imagining this room behind it, it felt full – full of wonder and magic and energy.

I believed that I could get into this room, if only I could keep the door closed long enough to make the magic happen. The deal was that I had to not open the door for as long as I possibly could, and if I could be patient enough, it would come true.

Of course I never was. The waiting would become unbearable, and I would just have to take a peak. The minute I turned the handle though – bam! – all the magic that had been slowly building up would escape, and I would have to start all over again, annoyed with myself for not having been able to hold out longer. I never have been very good at long-term thinking.

I like to think about my secret bedroom though still. It keeps fresh that wonderful open-mindedness we have as children, and reminds me that we really never know what’s behind the next door.


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