By Manuel Gonzales
What he liked about these doors, what he liked about this doorway, what he liked about standing in the shadows — not literally, not right now — of these doors in this doorway, was how they towered over him.
People, too, foreigners, especially, towered over him. This he did not like so much. People, foreigners especially, obtained a sense of superiority when they towered over him. The doors — these doors, in particular, assumed a sense of majesty without judgment. They towered — why he attributed any feelings to them, he couldn’t say, nor could he stop — they towered over him as protectors. He could close them at a moment’s notice. Open them, too. Shut the world out, or welcome it inside. Whatever he chose, the doors obliged, towering over everyone else — those locked out, those welcomed in — without judgment.
Sometimes, he found himself standing here in the early morning, when the light was faint and almost nothing moved, or in the middle of the afternoon, the bright light harsh, sharpening the contrast between in and out, and standing here, he would wonder at the miracle of doorways.
Perhaps miracle was a strong word, too strong a word, but not — he took a breath — not right at this moment, not now, not standing here now in this doorway.
A miracle of a doorway. A portal, even, on one side bright light and color, noise and motion, and on this other side, him.
When he left his home this morning, he passed through one, two, three, four, at least five doorways, each taking him farther and farther away from his home, from his grand-daughter, from her room, from their fight, from her tears.
By the time he makes his way home again tonight, he will pass through another series of doorways — most of them just the ways, without the doors — and through each one, or this was what he hoped, he would be transformed.
Every time he passed through a doorway: him, transformed.
These transformations could be large or small, from a man on this side of the building to a man on that side of the building, or from a man who knows what his life is about and how the world works to a man who made a child cry.
But no matter.
Each doorway a portal, each portal a change.
He will be surprised, then, when he arrives at home a transformed man. Surprised to find his grand-daughter’s room, once her mother’s room, emptied of her clothes, of her things, of her presence. Surprised because he will have forgotten that each doorway was a portal and each portal was a change waiting not just for him, but for everyone else, too.
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Manuel Gonzales is the author of the acclaimed story collection The Miniature Wife, winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the John Gardner Fiction Book Award: and the forthcoming novel, The Regional Office is Under Attack! (April 2016). A graduate of the Columbia University Creative Writing Program, he teaches writing at the University of Kentucky and the Institute for American Indian Arts. Gonzales lives in Kentucky with his wife and two children.
Gonzales shared with students at Gonzaga this spring as part of the Visiting Writers Series. Other guests this year included Rattawut Lapcharoensap (fiction) and Robyn Schiff (poetry). Coordinator of the series is Tod Marshall, who recently was named Washington state’s Poet Laureate.