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A Door To A Different Dream
I have a dream house. Some of the details are slightly fanciful, for example, the stained glass windows and the full-on turret. There are covered porches, a bay window, and a rambling yard. Plus: a distinctive color scheme. My house (one dream day) is very pale yellow, with shutters and a dark green, glossy door with a pineapple knocker.
The door, however, is suddenly up for revision—due to a recent development in the larger, realer world. The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin has put the door to the Greenwich Village bookshop online. The tiny store was only open for four years, during the 1920s, but served a famous meeting spot for bohemians of New York. While visiting there, literary heroes such as Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, and Upton Sinclair dug their names with blue pencil into the wooden panels, which you can now scroll across in order to read brief bios or anecdotes.
Even more interesting to me were names of lesser known literary folk, like Mary Aldis who "constructed a playhouse from an old cottage on the grounds of her summer estate in Lake Forest, Illinois." It got me thinking. What I'd really like is a door signed by anybody who comes over to my very real house with the leaky bathroom—friends, family, the UPS man. They all have a story, and I can't think of anything more satisfying than to come home at the end of the day and run my finger over all their names. I know their bios and they know mine. They have laughed with me and eaten my lousy stews and played with my kids. We have created something—perhaps not a theater troupe or a painting—but something worth signing nonetheless.
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