Doors are tricky. "Liminal spaces," some would call them. "Portal" is another word. It all means the same thing: a threshold marking transition from one space to another. These terms all sound very complaticated and confustimicating, but really the door is one of our most common and everyday sorts of technologies.
I'm a big fan of everyday technologies that are confustimicating.
But I digress: A door simply takes me from where I am into someplace new. Someplace different.
So I come home after nine days on the road, and I dig the key out of the hiding place. The key opens the door, and everything is new. It's different from where I've been. I've stepped over the boundary.
Thing is, when it's a door to home... Well, home is pretty much exactly the same as it was when I left. The laundry is still in a pile beside the bed; all of the computer and stereo lights strangely dim; only the intermittent thrum of the compressor in my refrigerator gives me any indication that this is a place inside of time rather than a portrait. (Okay, the bowl of salad I forgot to get rid of before I left shows signs of life, but that's not visible on first entering the room... only olfactorable.)
I'm stepping from a weary world of blinking lights and unconquerable injustices to a quaint log cabin in the back woods of Strathcona County. That's comforting... "I'm home!" I say, as I collapse into the hammock and open a bottle of something malty.
But however unchanged my home may be, something is different than it was before I left. I bring change home with me. The alienation of that first moment, the "I don't belong here anymore" is only a sign that I do belong; that is, that I must belong. I re-shape my home to fit the needs of my changed personality, and whatever it might become, however the fridge may smell, home is still "home."
Maybe home isn't really a fixed place at all: perhaps home is like "personality," or "taste," or "the position of the electron"... Always present, always important, but never quite as available for observation or precise location as we'd like to pretend.
So I put another set of books on the shelf in response to another pursuit (intellectual, aesthetic, or otherwise), and I put a new kind of microwave popcorn in the cupboard. The boots and shoes by the door cycle with the seasons, sometimes to be discarded and replaced. Eventually I hunt down all of the draft copies of old essay that are scattered around the room, but they're replaced with new drafts of new essays. I buy more socks, and the unmatched pile grows larger.
I'm home, but as with so many things, that doesn't mean as much as I'd like to think it does.