The Reluctant Lock

Key in Door

I just moved back to New Orleans from a long stint in Chicago.  I did not want to.  I moved back to the city mostly because it was time to put more effort into my relationship after 3 years of long-distance dating.  The Man believes that I’m a little bummed to be back in my old stomping grounds, but that I’m mostly OK.  In reality, I’m a lot bummed to be back in my old stomping grounds, but OK enough now to realize the experience will most likely grow on me.  It just didn’t make sense to relate my despair to him when I knew there was a high chance for me to turn it around.  I’m pretty resilient, and I did mostly have a great time living here the last time (1999 – 2008).  I have sweet memories of what it’s like to be a New Orleanian, even just a transplant.  There are quite a few people left in this town that I’m proud to call ‘friend’, and it’s the kind of city where it’s incredibly easy to make new friends with just a tiny bit of effort and a bit of social lubricant.

The Man and I have moved in together.  It’s not the first time.  The first time was in Chicago, though it was somewhat of a disaster since he was having a hard time finding a job and the resulting mood around the house was less than zen.  We lived there for two years, though by that time he was working in New Orleans again during the week and only home about twice a month for a couple of days at a time.  We moved into a second apartment in Chicago, as well, but again it was mostly just my apartment that he visited every few weeks.  Our newest place is our second attempt at living together full time, and it’s going pretty well.  There are only two problems.

The first problem is the amount of time I spend in the house.  I work from home now, as the marketing director for an interior design firm in Chicago.  From 9 to 5:30, Monday through Friday, I sit on my couch (or bed), typing away on the computer and chatting on my cell phone.  By the time the afternoon rolls around, my back and hips are screaming in pain, and I’m a bit stir crazy.  By the time The Man gets home from work and wants to enjoy being home, I’m absolutely mad with the need to leave, to be anywhere but home.  Last week I had the most amazing moment of overwhelming joy while shopping for a loaf of bread at Winn Dixie.  That is so not normal; I’ve made the resolution to get out of the house much more in the coming week.

Which leads us to problem number two:  our front door lock doesn’t work for me.  My key doesn’t turn in the lock.  “Easy,” you say, “just get a new key cut.”  I did.  Eight keys, in fact, most of which work for The Man with just a little jostling.  In general until yesterday, it took me no less than 10 minutes to lock or unlock my own front door.  For a woman who 1) works on a tight schedule, and 2) REALLY needs to leave the house when it’s time, this is a sophisticated form of torture.  Of course, for the first week, The Man regarded my complaints with that bemused look men tend to get when dealing with members of the opposite sex who obviously aren’t clever enough to use mechanical items.  It didn’t help that in general I’m not the greatest with mechanical stuff, and I also couldn’t turn the key in my own car last week (in my defense, it’s only been my car for a week, and I didn’t know there was such a thing as a wheel lock mechanism).  But then on Friday his key gave him a bit of trouble and he realized it wasn’t all in my head.  Finally yesterday, when all three housekeys on my keyring AND the two he possessed failed to get us into our apartment, we reached a point of agreement.  He realized how utterly frightening and frustrating it is to neither be able to get into nor leave your own house, depending on the whims of a shitty deadbolt.  Eventually we got in again, but again I’m trapped in my own home until a solution is reached.

So.  Here we are.  It’s noon on a Sunday, and The Man, along with our landlord (who thankfully lives upstairs and saw our key plight) is attempting to install a new deadbolt.  I say ‘attempting’ because the first lock the landlord bought locked with a key on both sides, and once they got it installed, it was realized that wouldn’t do.  The landlord has run back out to the hardware store for a proper deadbolt lock, and The Man is having a smoke on the front porch.  There’s a dishrag stuffed in the hole where the reluctant lock once lived.

Someone with a bigger imagination could probably see a world of inferences in this story.  Perhaps this is a chance for a new life, free of boundaries.  Maybe this small change will help truly ignite larger changes in my personal life.  Right now, all I can think about is how frustrating it is to be locked away in your own home, complaints as to quality of stay only believed when indisputable proof is received.  I guess I also think about how this house has become an extension of my distaste for this move; I feel like I was trapped into moving here, there was no other choice.  Maybe now that I can leave whenever I want to, I’ll stop feeling like this entire move is a form of imprisonment.

The Man says that I’m never happy.  Maybe that’s true, but I remember times when I was happy a lot.  It’s just that for the last few years, everything has felt like such a struggle, like life is all about working hard to not go under, not working hard to rise above.  I’m so ready for that to change.  As much as I’m sad about moving back here, I want to start living with joy again.

While I’ve been writing this, the new lock arrived and was installed.  I’ve tried it out and it works smoothly, without a hitch, nothing but a velvety click when I flick the key back and forth.  Maybe that’s the first sound of happiness as it returns.  I’d like to think so.

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