i never used to lock my doors. like, any of them. when we lived in gatineau, the doors to our house were perennially unlocked. in a house with one bathroom shared between four family members, occupying the shower didn’t really give you the right to occupy the whole bathroom.
that habit even carried over into my current residence. i live in an apartment building, and once i was past those flimsy glass doors i felt safe. i never locked the door when i was at home.
well, i do now. a few things have happened to me during my lifetime that have eroded my sense of security. the most recent was no one’s fault, but it still sucked. i was peeing one day (bear with me, it’s relevant) and i heard my neighbour directly above me fall down in the shower. hard. now, my dad is a safety freak, and the horror stories he’s told me about all kinds of household accidents caused that sound to make my blood run cold. i thought to myself, this person could have knocked themselves out, they could be bleeding, drowning, dying of a concussion. the rational part of me told me everything was fine. the callous part of me told me it was not my problem. the socially conscious part of me told me not to stick my nose in other people’s business. but the worrying part of me, the part that reminds me of how guilty i’d feel if something bad did happen, and i’d done nothing to help, won. i went upstairs and knocked.
long story short, a man eventually came to the door. he was so drunk he could barely stand. when i explained that i had heard the person living above me fall down, and that i was just making sure that everyone was safe, he told me that he had been sleeping, that there was no one else in the apartment, but that it was very sweet that i cared. most people wouldn’t have bothered to check, he said. most people don’t care.
after some apologies on my part for the “false alarm” (that sound was unmistakeable, directly above me, and he was very, very drunk) we said our goodbyes and i wandered back to my apartment. a few minutes later, there was a knock at my door, and again i found myself talking to this very tall, very broad looking man. he tells me he just wanted to stop by on the way out to breakfast, to thank me again for caring. i say it was no problem, and we exchange a couple more pleasantries before he took off.
a couple of days later i came home to this:
now, this man means me no harm. he’s just trying to be friendly. he likes me, or something. but he drinks, and is over a foot taller than i. and not only does he know where i live, but he feels comfortable stopping by my door. i live alone, with the most pathetic guard animals possible: a three legged, chicken-shit cat, and an ornery turtle that’s trapped in a glass box in the corner… woo. so, i have started locking my door when i am at home, and checking and double checking that i didn’t forget.
but here’s the thing: i have nightmares. in one of these nightmares i wake up to find a bunch of teenagers that have gotten into my apartment. knowing that i lock the door, even while i’m at home now, i yell at them and ask how they got in? i find out that they were previous tenants, and got illegal, unregistered duplicates of the key made, so that they could get in any time after they moved out. that even if i get their copy of the key, they have four or five more. and that’s just for this group of people, who knows how many more groups did the same thing? my apartment is about as impenetrable as a wall of sponge cake.
but it’s just a bad dream, right? sure, mostly. but there’s certainly a message coming from my subconscious, that i’m hearing (and feeling) pretty clearly:
once your walls have been breached, there’s no going back. repair them all you want; they will always be cracked, and threaten to crumble when you need them most. and no amount of locking your doors, or closing your curtains, will ever make you feel truly safe again.