Monday, March 31, 2008

A Dilapidated Door of Opportunity




We came upon it while hiking. It used to be green, still is around its battered edges. A rusted, abandoned car from...when? The thirties? Forties? The car was driven a lot. Once its roof was patched with asphalt. The passenger door was riddled with bullet holes--most likely the work of frustrated hunters, after the car's abandonment. But the kids, who were much younger then, assumed we were looking at Bonnie and Clyde's Ford V-8.

"Blood stains!!" Flan and Oaks shouted in jubilation.

Whatever their origins, the bullet holes contributed measurably to the complicated, oxidized, and yes, old-blood-colored, surface of the door. We were looking at a gem of entropy, what they call a piece of "found art." I wanted it. During the next few weeks, I'd bring it up to Bennie.

"I want that car door."

"Yeah, it's cool," he'd say, "but what a hassle to get it down the hill."

"That car door, I keep thinking about it."

"I know you do. But what a hassle."

"I dreamed about that car door last night."

"I'm sure you did. But what a hassle."

Then one miraculous Sunday morning, Bennie woke up, turned to me and said, "Why don't we skip church and go get your door instead?"

A couple of hours later, the four of us were wheeling our Radio Flyer wagon up the never-ending winding path through the pinons and junipers to Bonnie and Clyde's death vehicle. Even I was starting to think of it in that way.

"That's one ugly door. Even uglier than I remembered," Bennie said when we at long last were staring at the car. "And what a hassle."

I was having a similar thought. Since we'd last looked, the door had acquired a large, rather putrid yellow blotch. It was like a melanoma. But I wasn't about to back down. We'd dragged the kids and the wagon and a bunch of bungee cords for almost mile up a hill in order to fulfill Mom's dream, the thing she'd been hassling Dad about for weeks on end. You don't teach your kids to back down from their dreams.

Getting the door back down the hill was, naturally, a bigger challenge than we'd counted on. It wouldn't lay politely across the Radio Flyer as we'd planned, but kept bursting out of the bungee cords, hell-bent for our shins. So we wound up standing our corroded find upright, balanced precariously on the topmost edges of the wagon. We then took turns, one of us in the coveted position of wagon-pulling, the other three keeping the door upright by holding onto a non-serrated section of the edge. We, after all, had no desire to enhance this artifact with our own blood stains.

As we pulled the door back down the path, I was captivated by the shadows of the pines moving in and out, over the oxidized surface. The changing light altered the colors. It was, by turns, green, then rust, then deepest red. At one time little Oakley, ever the mind reader, began laughing.

"Look at those shadows," he said.

Yes,we drew some unusual looks as we took turns pulling the tiny wagon, a crumpled upright car door balanced precariously atop. One hiker applauded, assuming we were engaged in some massive cleanup project. Most stole sideways, embarrassed glances in our direction--the way you can't help looking at a bewhiskered woman or a four-hundred-pound dwarf.

And yes, like so many actions that provoke temporary disgrace, it was worth it. The door now hangs proudly on a wall at the top of our stairs, commanding the tiny many-windowed room we call The Atrium. Its oxidized, wrinkled surface catches the rays of the afternoon sun and gives off a kind of "been there, done that" brilliance. And that putrid yellowish blotch? It's come to resemble a coyote staring upwards at the ceiling beams.

Visitors have strong reactions. Some want to buy it. Many scratch their head in puzzlement. A few steal sideways, embarrassed glances. The family loves it. And we're the ones who live with it. We're the ones who count.

When I'm feeling stuck--in a painting or in life or in my own indecision, I like to gaze up at the door. It reminds me to carry through on my impulses. To not back down, even if I have to enlist others. And almost always, I do have to enlist others.

Doors of opportunity present themselves at every moment. Often they're not perfect. Life, it has a way of being imperfect, doesn't it? Sometimes it's downright ugly. But even ugliness, arranged just so, struck by your particular light, may astonish you with its beauty.

113 comments:

david mcmahon said...

Bravo, Bennie, Bravo San ...

``You don't teach your kids to back down from their dreams.'' That has always been my mantra.

I would also have coveted this door - for much the same reasons. Yes, San, as you always tell me, I see art and beauty in things that most people would walk past.

In that we share life's passion for unexpected art.

Nice to see your shadow in this picture too.

Wish we knew the real story of the door's history. Maybe one day ....

(So glad you liked my raindrops-on-the-umbrella pictures!!)

Sparkling Red said...

I know that there are many competeting definitions of "art". The one that works for me is this:

Art is anything that causes you to pause for a moment, and experience what's in front of you in the context of beauty.

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

... fantastic post.

Reminds me of the Valley of Achor becoming a door of hope....

Knew someone who underwent a similar saga for a rusted tin bath on the top of a mountain in the Arctic circle.

self taught artist said...

uncanny your post and mine today. but yours is funnier, better written and probably more inspiring. great post san.

Karen Jacobs said...

Great find! Even greater to recognize it and find a way to get it home!

San said...

David, I should have known: you, of all people, would see my shadow self in the picture.

Perhaps you will write the "real" story of the door's history. I'm sure you'd be up to the task.

;-)

San said...

Red, that's one of the most sparkling definitions of art I've ever read.

Leave it to you, girl!

San said...

Julie, thanks!

"A rusted tin bath on the top of a mountain in the Arctic circle." Talk about a hassle. Talk about commitment to beauty.

San said...

Paula, you're far too modest. More like: great minds on the same wavelength. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

San said...

Karen, how great to "see" you here again! Thanks for visiting.

lime said...

oh i do love it! i can just imagine the happy parade (even if they were fearing for the integrity of their shins) bringing home the spoils of victory. brings a smile to my face. and really, in my opinion that is what art should do...when you look at it it should remind you to grow, to see something in a new and wonderful way. thanks for sharing. :)

Angel... said...

OMG San thats a wonderful post I have ever seen it.. I like this picture too thats very cool.

Velvet Ginger (Rubye Jean) said...

What a cool find!!! Don't you love the way everyone's imagination runs wild when we come across artifacts?
Thanks for sharing that!

Casdok said...

Great post! :)

murat11 said...

Ms San, that is one fine found poem on your wall. Of my two favorite art pieces in SA's McNay Art Museum, one of them is a gigantic junkyard wall's worth of corroded metal and orphaned shoes (the other is an orange-drenched painting by Larry Rivers). I absolutely love the epic poem embedded in the avalanche of disuse.

Lots of wonderful reflections and lessons in this story: the obsession; the passage of time; the hassle; retrieval as substitute for church; pride of place; coyote/trickster's blessing stamped upon the "hassle"...impulses honored...enlisted conspirators...the imperfect ugliness of wondrous opportunity...

Wonderful sermon from The Most Holy Chapel of the Mangled Hatch.

murat11 said...

Ms San, that is one fine found poem on your wall. Of my two favorite art pieces in SA's McNay Art Museum, one of them is a gigantic junkyard wall's worth of corroded metal and orphaned shoes (the other is an orange-drenched painting by Larry Rivers). I absolutely love the epic poem embedded in the avalanche of disuse.

Lots of wonderful reflections and lessons in this story: the obsession; the passage of time; the hassle; retrieval as substitute for church; pride of place; coyote/trickster's blessing stamped upon the "hassle"...impulses honored...enlisted conspirators...the imperfect ugliness of wondrous opportunity...

Wonderful sermon from The Most Holy Chapel of the Mangled Hatch.

San said...

Lime, your wisdom dazzles me. That and your way with words.

San said...

Angel, you are most kind. Thank you!

San said...

Rubye Jean, the imagination running wild--it's great, isn't it?

San said...

Casdok, thanks!

San said...

Paschal, your reflections here are a most holy sermon. They bear repeating. Apparently even the Higher Power of the Blogger Software felt so too and made them show up twice.

Amen. And amen.

Now I must see that big wall of corroded metal and orphaned shoes. (The LR doesn't sound half-bad either.) Several years ago here in The City Different people started dropping off shoes along Old Pecos Trail. It became this long, winding roadway of found--or should I say discarded--art. After a time, it became same old, same old, and the shoes, along with the excitement, vanished. Pity.

jennifer h said...

I would love to know the story behind the door.

My sister tells me that I like things that look like they've been buried in the ground for a long time.

So, yes, I like the door! The photo is great, too, with the shadows.

San said...

Sounds like we're kindred spirits, Jennifer. To things that look like they've been buried in the ground a long time!

katie jane said...

That's exactly what I thought when I saw it: 'Door of Opportunity". Don't be discouraged by those who don't understand. I love found art and it always has some mysterious meaning, if only to me.

San said...

Katie Jane, thanks for visiting. And for echoing the sentiments.

Carol said...

I know that door from my childhood. Like the holey (holy), rusty cans half-buried in my grandmother's wild backyard. Like old, unused water troughs rotting in an open Kansas field.

I know the feeling of the rough, rusty metal. I know the smell.

Thanks for the memories!

I'm glad that you gave this door of character a new life.

Great post!

San said...

Carol, your "holey" memories are sweet. As is your double-take on the word.

Peace, my friend.

Meg Wolff said...

This was the most wonderful blog post I have EVER read!! I think you are a famous writer using the alias San. I want to just keep reading.

WILSONART said...

OH! I want that door too!

Perseverance
Tenacity
Endurance
Determination,,,
what life lessons to teach the kids.

Love the post, Bravo San!

Certainly gives a whole new meaning to "found object".

SandyCarlson said...

Wonderful! I would love that door, too. It's just asking to be written about.

I wonder what sound the bullets made when they hit that metal.

This post reminds me of the Easter sermon this year. The rector talked about having the answers in our own hands but needing them pointed out to us--we hold the key, perhaps the key to that door, San!

The rector had locked his key in the car, called for help from AAA, and discovered with the help of the AAA guy that the spare door clicker had a key on it. He had the key the whole time. A bit like Mary Magdalene at the tomb not realizing she was looking into the face of Christ.

Your site is always an inspiration to me. God bless.

CrazyCath said...

San - that is a wonderful post. It's not just the acquiring the door and how you did it. It's about following through on your dreams and I admire you for that.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Delightful post, San! My mind’s eye accompanied you as if I were there with you. God bless than old door!

HMBT said...

Wonderful post, and I would have wanted/had to have that door too. No doubt. Your family sounds like it's just about the coolest thing going...you are a blessed woman. :)

Mima said...

What a wonderful door, and I can completely understand that wanting of something that everyone else sees as junk. Last Spring when I was well we had gone for a walk along a new patch of ground which was lovely with dragon flies and the like and we came across this burnt patch of ground where once I think a car had been, and there were several lumps of molten metal which I had great fun photographing. But I couldn't forget them, and we had to go on a special trip a few days later just to recover them for more photography!

Lee said...

Great door, San! I can see me leaning on it, but I bet it is too high up for that to be realistic. Maybe I'll just sit near it someday. :)

"...to remind me to carry through on my impulses." That's really good. It gives you a reminder of success. We all need those things.

Hugs!

Momma said...

Wow - what a beautifully written piece! It seems you have found the "death's door" of which they speak ;-)

David sent me over...Peace - D

San said...

Meg, you're making me grin. THANK YOU.

San said...

Babs, that's our lesson as artists, isn't it?

To perseverance, tenacity, determination, and endurance!

CHEWY said...

"Found Art"

My Grad School roommates and I brought home a dented car door from Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Hung it on our living room wall and called it our "John Chamberlain" piece.

In the winter we brought home long dead barren branches and set up a forest of "trees", lit with white twinkle lights, in our front window bay.

San said...

Sandy, that sounds like a magnificent Easter sermon you absorbed. You have passed its essence on beautifully, too.

Blessings to you.

San said...

Oh, Cath, it's always a pleasure to read your comments. Thank you.

San said...

Too bad you weren't with us, Nick. We could have used another hand to keep that door steady.

You are actually rather frequently saintly, Nick.

San said...

Heather, I knew you too would salivate over such a door. My family is way cool. And so is yours.

Love to the gang!

San said...

Mima, how did they turn out-- your photos of molten metal lumps? Would you consider posting them?

San said...

Well, Lee, if you come to visit, and if we practice our levitation, who knows? Maybe we'll both need to lean on that door.

Hugs.

San said...

Momma, I love your "death's door" reference.

Thank you for visiting. I hope you'll return.

Peace to you.

San said...

Chewy, I would have felt right at home in your grad school place.

Of course, I would have loved the door. And your winter forest with white twinkle lights--that sounds like pure magic!

The Moody Minstrel said...

That looks and sounds like a door from a car that was loved to death...

...and then unceremoniously dumped in the middle of nowhere...

...kind of like a lot of elderly folks dumped off in care centers and forgotten.

At least now this door is among friends and being loved again.

Kim said...

Once again, San, you have touched me with your story of the door! Indeed it is a door of opportunity, a door of lessons and a door to life experiences. But THIS PARTICULAR DOOR represents a family and that is so critical.

You had mentioned on my blog I should hold onto my husband [and I will :)], but I think you have a real keeper, too. My husband would not have gone to get that door! I am quite sure of that!

Thanks San...you have a beautiful way of telling the story.

suchsimplepleasures said...

i'm here via david. what a fabulous post on so many levels!!!
thank you for sharing that wonderful story and picture!

Daryl E said...

You know you dont just paint with paint, you paint with words ..

San said...

Yours is a touching analogy, Moody.

Thank you for that.

San said...

Kim, I agree. Bennie too is a keeper. I knew it was really special, his going to help me get the door. And of course, he was the one who had the delicious task of hanging it way up there on the wall.

Thanks for your well-wishing.

San said...

And thanks to David for sending you over, SSP. And thanks to you for visiting!

San said...

Daryl, you always give me an earful of good feelings.

;-)

P M Prescott said...

There's a hiking path at Glorieta encampment where you walk by a rusting Model T. Haven't been on that particular path in years, but I bet it's still there.
It's was nice stopping by and seeing you.

San said...

Pat, maybe they should change our state's nickname from The Land of Enchantment to The Land of Abandonment.

It was good to see you too. Thank you for visiting.

whimsical brainpan said...

Wonderful post!

I'm so glad you went and got the door.

Cestandrea said...

San, what a wonderful story to read, you sure honoured this old cardoor:) It looks great, and is such a metaphore for so many values,
and it is beautiful!
Andrea

Peter said...

Hi! I'd prefer to call it my window of opportunity in order to say hello and tell you that you have a wonderful and inspiring site.

Remember, any friend of Annas is a friend of mine.

Take Care,
Peter

San said...

Whim, thanks for the visit!

San said...

Andrea, I knew you would appreciate the door and all it stands for. Thanks!

San said...

Peter, thank you for your kindness.

I hope you will visit again.

John-Michael said...

"even ugliness, arranged just so, struck by your particular light, may astonish you with its beauty"

If only these words ... the potentials embedded in this thought could be emblazoned over the lectern in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations headquarters. Could respect, inclusion and acceptance be very far behind?

One of the most edifying and thoroughly enjoyable pieces that I have been privileged to read. I am in your debt!

aims said...

Wow!!

I love your senses and your words San...

jameil1922 said...

i just pictured you in a "painter's block" with your head tilted to one side (the left), hair disheveled, an open expression and the end of a paint brush between your teeth, gazing at the door.

isn't it interesting that the person who made that car on the assembly line, bought it first, 2nd, 3rd and eventually discarded it would never have imagined this fate-- rescued, loved & displayed on the internet.

Opinionated Diva said...

Wow...beautifully written.

Barbara J. Gill said...

Thank you for commenting on my blog and I will enjoy going through your blog. I must say that the old car door hit me right away. Roberta MacKenzie who is noted on my main website as one of the Voices Within ... has husband Keith who has taken numerous photos of old cars. They litter our wooded areas - our landscapes don't they? And yet there was one such vehicle perched at the edge of what I called my Circle of Trees where I meditated for a year. And it felt almost like - well as if I had company there. It was by the river's edge. All best to you and keep up all your lovely work. Barbara J Gill, New Brunswick, Canada

Celebration of Life said...

Wow San! I turn my back for 3 days and you have a new post and 68comments! LOL

Chuck and I are back safe and sound. He is happy that we are back; he doesn't like snowy and icy roads either. I had to teach him not to scream when I pass trucks. He hang onto the dash and didn't scream today when an 18 wheeler pulled out in front of me and just about side-swiped me. He is learning. LOL

Velvet Ginger (Rubye Jean) said...

San, I have been thinking about this since I read your story...
Back where i come from (Wyoming) and wherer I live now (AZ) things found out in the "boon-docks" like car doors...are used for target practice. Folks can haul them out there and shoot them up or just come across them and shoot them up, a common thing. But I really like the idea of it coming from Bonnie & Clyde!!!

Carolyn said...

One word: THANKS.

Well, more than that. Thanks for stopping by and commenting about my scrapbook pages. I appreciate it!

ps - Love your door, and the story. Kids learn everything they know from what you do and not what you say. That day with the door, they learned never to back down from their dreams. What a great example to them!

San said...

That is a most edifying comment, John-Michael.

THANK YOU.

San said...

AIMS, back at ya!

San said...

Jameil, that is brilliant--your imagining the door's lineage right back to the person on the assembly line.

Not to mention your fanciful image of moi.

;- )

San said...

OD, it's not everyday I receive such an accolade from an Opinionated Diva.

Thanks.

San said...

Welcome back, Jo. Does this mean I have to start behaving myself again?

I am impressed that Chuck didn't scream under such circumstances. Did you have him gagged?

San said...

Interesting that you bring that up, Rubye. I forgot to mention in my post that the door now has a dual function--artpiece and shooting target.

San said...

Barbara, you've conjured quite an image for me--meditation in a circle of trees, attended by an abandoned vehicle. Love it!

Hope you'll visit again.

San said...

Carolyn, I appreciate that comment, coming from one who is in the thick of mommying.

Thanks.

Celebration of Life said...

Yes, San, you have to be good now that I am back but only if you want to!

Chuck blogged about our traveling experience so go read about it if you get time.

It is good to be home!
Jo

Akelamalu said...

Some of the best 'treasures' are discarded by others. I think I would like your door. :)

San said...

I'm glad you're back, Jo. Have a beautiful day!

San said...

Akelamalu, of the musical name, you would be one to recognize treasure. Smile.

Indigo said...

Hi San! Thank for visiting my blog today.

Thistle is my companion spirit. It's nice to have a companion spirit. :)

Celebration of Life said...

The sky is a beautiful azure blue this morning and the wind is calm so I can't help but have a wonderful day today. I'm sending hugs your way!
Jo

LZ Blogger said...

San - Thanks for checking in. Funny you mentioned that book about the Sandhill Cranes. A couple of years ago, my youngest son bought me the book "On Ancient Wings": The Sandhill Cranes of North America by Michael Forsberg (Author) He is not known as a writer, but with a camera, this guy is a TRUE artist. Check it out sometime. We have it sitting on our coffee table and everyone loves to look at it! ~ jb///

San said...

Well, Indigo, please give my best to Thistle. And have a soaring day!

San said...

Hugs gladly received, Jo! And returned...

San said...

LZ, thanks for the book recommendation. I love cranes!

Shrinky said...

You don't teach your kids to back down from their dreams.

No san you don't, you go on to prove to them that anything is possible. With a mother like you, these babies must FLY!

San said...

Now that you mention it, Shrinky, I don't believe YOU are in any danger whatsoever of being turned in to the Dream Endangerment officials.

Wink.

Rhea said...

What a fabulous post! I was wondering throughout what you were going to do with it. It was almost anticlimatic that it ended up on your wall...but I love it! What an awesome "centerpiece" so to speak. Thank you for sharing!!

I'm dying to know...what else is in your house?!!

A.Bananna said...

that is cool! I love the door and your post about it!!!

those are the memories your children will hold onto for forever!!!! :)

Maggie May said...

I thought you wanted it for the garden! Was surprised it wen on the landing, but it will be an absolute talking point. had to laugh at the missing Church to get the car door! I'm sure God was laughing!
That was a very unusual & enjoyable post. I loved it!

b2 said...

You know I love the door. What I'm wondering is how you managed to get it actually ON the wall. Curse of the analytical brain.

San said...

Rhea, what else is in our house? More dust than anything else. We live on a dirt road in the high desert.

You forget what things look like and where they are. People go missing under all that dust.

Jeff B said...

I can tell you are a "glass is half full" kind of woman. What a great reminder of determination to have in your presence.

San said...

Anna, you're right. Make good memories while you have the chance. Hug.

San said...

Maggie May, we actually have a few other pieces of the car serving as "sculptures" in the back yard.

San said...

b2, I guess that means you'll have to make another trip to New Mexico. You can inspect the mounting firsthand.

xoxoxo

San said...

Jeff, I like to think that the empty part is full of possibility.

Best to you and Lisa!

Lori Witzel said...

Lovin' that door...dare I say I, er, uhm, "adoor" it?

I have a different door jammed on my blog, but I extend a deep gashho your way for actually bagging the sucker, getting it back, and writing such a wonderful meditation on it!

Sandi McBride said...

My God San, you need to send this in for publishing...what a great story and what a great lesson!!! It should post of the day, are you listening David? I just loved it...and I'll bet Bonnie was still holding on to her man as she tried to wrest the rusted out old car door open so her soul could escape the confines of hell...I love your door...what hassle?
Sandi

Lynette said...

San, I enjoyed reading your post so much! What an amazing and fascinating thing you and your family did in rescuing this old car door! 'Bonnie and Clyde' popped in my head at the first glance of the photo. Sometimes an object like that can be so full of character and inspiration that the ugliness turns into something much bigger... something like pure beauty!

jsd said...

That is an amazing door...it's beat up, broken, rusted...one would think useless - yet there it is providing inspiration and joy, a constant reminder that nothing is ever useless.

Flannery said...

"Blood stains!" Ha ha, that reminds me of my stint in the ER. Blood was so exciting...

San said...

Lori, I return the gasho, deeply, with adooration.

San said...

Sandi, bless David's heart, he did honor my post. You must be like me--not enough hours in the day to check in on his and others' fine blogs as often as you'd like.

You're one of the rare bloggers who has probably witnessed that kind of Bonnie scenario in real life. Shiver.

San said...

Well put, Lynette. And thank you so much for visiting.

San said...

JS, you are an amazing person. Thank you for being you.

San said...

Flannery (Our Person), you have always had a stronger stomach for carnage than does your mother. Good thing too.

Gretchen said...

Never give up on your dreams. Such a simple statement, but it means so much! Good for you for not giving up. :)

San said...

Thanks, Gretchen.