I hadn’t seen this door for almost eleven years, but within the span of these two months, I had already seen it twice. Standing in front of it again now, I remembered that two months earlier, in this very location but six floors down and on the main level, the words, “just put one foot in front of the other” were trailing across my mind.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
I continued concentrating one foot in front of the other.
It was time. I needed what everyone insists is called “closure.” Whether “closure” existed or not, I needed my 34-degree cosmopolitan city in the East to begin feeling like my 34-degree cosmopolitan city in the East again. So, here I was.
I came here earlier that day too, but I couldn’t go up. Instead, at two in the afternoon, I lingered on the main level of this brick-walled apartment building, which I still knew well.
The main level is an open space, lined with columns on each side. Accompanying these columns that lead up to the elevator are those circular, marble tables and chairs where my cousins and I would hide, bothering the men who played Carrom there.
I ambled past each column and table, down the middle of the main level. I was trying hard to make a quiet statement. I was trying hard to say, “stop me if you can; ban me from your grounds if you can.”
With each step, it felt like the breeze that snuck through these pillars also whispered the past into my ears. In the breeze, I heard my three-wheeled bicycle clicking as it paddled through these open spaces. In the breeze, I heard her tell me not to fight with my cousin, who was one year older than me and so, so annoying, even if he did teach me the coolest handshake I will ever know. In the breeze, I heard her telling me not to go too far behind the steps beside the elevator, also known as the “secret” hideout. I’m embarrassed to say my cousins and I were not more creative than that.
Coming back from the past and arriving at the elevator at 2:02 pm, I pressed the button going up at 2:03 pm. And at 2:04 pm, I turned around, walked across the block, and asked the cab driver parked there to take me back to Woodlands Drive 16.
At 10:30 that night, my feet finally made their way into that elevator. This time, my cousin was by my side, looking at me anxiously.
“I’m fine,” I promised as I got out of the elevator and asked her to wait for me downstairs.
Adjacent to the elevator, on this 6th-floor, stood this door. I walked towards this door, shut at that time, and faced it. Should I ring the bell?
I didn’t; I should have.
And now, I’m standing here again. The door is open this time. But, on the other side of its threshold, a tragedy is welcoming me instead of the familial warmth that should have never left my valence. Feeling like the harbinger of all expiration dates, I cross this door’s unpropitious threshold.
“Closure,” it exists, but it didn’t bring me back my 34-degree cosmopolitan city in the East; it promised me that my 34-degree cosmopolitan city in the East would never breathe again.