Friday, February 04, 2005

The Door

So I went to my assistant asking where she had stashed the new binders. "In the storage room under the stairs," she told me.

Storage room under the stairs? What storage room? What stairs? How long have we had this room?

She told me where it was and said it was keyed to my submaster. Curiouser and curiouser. Obviously I had signed off on the re-keying of this room at some point, but I have no recollection of it.

But hey, more storage is always a good thing, so I followed her directions and found that yes, there was a door just where she said it would be, under the stairs by the handicapped entrance. I unlocked it and stepped inside.

It wasn't anything to write home about. Bare brick walls, a bit of county-hospital-green trim around the door, concrete floor. Cold. A lizard scampered across my foot. It was just a small room... storing an old typewriter, a few dead adding machines and some boxes of binders.

I got my binders and left.

But it got me wondering how I had managed to overlook that door set in so tantalizing a spot. Perhaps it was the "Maintenance" sign that signaled my brain that this was no great mystery and was in fact Someone Else's Problem. There was a time though, when a door under the stairs would've awakened every little nerve cell in my brain with thoughts of mystery and adventure, hidden secrets and all.

My Aunt Pin had a house that every summer brought these feelings to a fever pitch.

Technically I suppose she was my great-aunt. She was my grandmother's sister-in-law. But I always called her "Aunt." She lived in a rambling two-story frame house in Dennis, Massachusetts, right around the middle of Cape Cod. I thought the house was wonderful.

It had been built in 1792 and had a plaque on the front to prove it. It was a house full of that "old house" smell of wood floors, wood panels, wood everything. It had a Cape Cod cellar, which was a round stone basement for storing vegetables and butter. It had two parlors, two porches, a long dining room, and a half dozen rooms upstairs. One of the rooms- a little garret room off the largest bedroom - was haunted. I have a very dim memory of an elderly male relative lying sick and dying in that room, but I know no specifics, and I don't know if it was he who haunted that room when it became a toy room for me and my cousins. I just know that in spite of the bright paint, boxes of toys and scads of sunlight, there was something creepy and cold about that room that made even a steady, never-seen-a-ghost gal like me unable to bear being alone in there for even a minute.

But one of the more intriguing things about the house was the door to nowhere. It was a door set into a wall of the dining room, and Aunt Pin swore that it led to absolutely nothing. My cousins and I weren't able to see for ourselves because it had been shut for so long that the paint had sealed it, and neither us kids nor our elderly relatives could yank it open. So we had to just take her word for it.

I always thought that if there was one mysterious door, there must be others and I led little expedtions to find them. My cousins and I checked stairs, walls and floorboards for secret compartments. We begged (and failed) to be allowed up into the attic. But we did one day go up into the attic of the barn, and while we didn't find treasure, exactly, I did find a moderately valuable early edition of Sinclair Lewis' Arrowsmith and a centennial U.S. history book that claimed to hold "One Hundred Items of Great and Enduring Interest..."

At least a quarter of the incidents are ones that even with my degree in history, I've never heard of, that's how obscure they are. Oh, those wacky Gilded Age folks!

Anyway, with a childhood history like that, how could I have gone five years without noticing a never-opened door underneath a staircase right in my own office building? There's nothing wrong with growing up, but I hate to think I might be turning into a grownup.

In triathlon training news, I had been having just enough pain in my never-properly-diagnosed foot recently to find it annoying. So while poking around on it Wednesday night, I found what appeared to be a knot around the base of the first and second metatarsals. So I rubbed it and it seemed to feel better. It felt the same Thursday during the day, so I rubbed it again last night. Bad move. I could barely stand on it when I got out of bed this morning. Sport tape has me moving again, but we'll have to see how things go on tomorrow's run. I had been planning to run up to Rice and Hermann Park, where I could see the ducks, but I'll stay close to home instead so I can come home and finish my workout on the elliptical trainer if my foot gives me any trouble.

And the Cyclerobx tapes I ordered off ebay arrived today. OMG-- proto-Spinervals with Coach Troy in long hair and Tyler Hamilton in the back of the room pedaling away! I don't know if I'm going to be able to do the workouts from laughing! This is going to be fun.

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 45 minutes Spinervals, No Slackers Allowed
Wednesday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 30 minute interval run
Thursday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 30 minute elliptical, one mile hard run at 7 min/mile pace
Friday: 45 minutes core and strength training

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