It must have been someone with a perverse sense of humor who designed door knobs that open from the inside, but stay locked on the outside. I have lived with this for 18 years, paranoid that I would lock myself out. Fortunately, it has been such an active household that there was almost always someone home. But this seems to be the year this house challenges my mental state.
One day last week, I had just run nearly 11 miles (9.5 of it barefoot) and was focused on FOOD. The hefty lunch of baked mac-n-cheese and green peas was good, but I had a very strong craving for ice cream with milk. A quick trip to the store and back, and the ice cream was in my overly large mug. I opened the refrigerator to get the milk. The spot where the jug should have been was empty. There was slight panic, until I realized that there were two extra jugs in the garage refrigerator. Out I went to retrieve it.
As soon as I had shut the door to the house, I knew what I had done. What is it about these types of things? Why does the brain not warn a second before “the thing” happens, instead of right after. It’s not like I tested the knob to find out. I just all of a sudden knew.
I did what any mature woman would do: I clenched my fists, squinched up my face, and began rapidly stomping my feet while chanting, “no! no! no! no! no!” No one was due to be home for at least a couple of hours! I had never been in this situation before. I tried to think about what I had heard about people being locked out of their own houses. I was still barefooted, my cell phone was on the desk, and the dog was looking at me quizzically through the door window.
I scanned my surroundings and spotted the cat door. It could at least get me into the… no, wait, I was already in the garage. Obviously, I needed to take a moment to meditate and find my center. That lasted for about 5 seconds, then I went out and tried to wiggle (okay, a little violently) the sliding glass door. It didn’t budge and I comforted myself with the fact that that is a good thing.
Next, I reviewed the list of people who have their own keys to my house. That exercise was exciting until I realized I couldn’t call any of them. I temporarily forgot I had neighbors with phones… I might as well have been in the middle of a desert! Not only that, but the people who had keys were anywhere from 1000 miles to 20 miles away. Ah! Then, I remembered that my youngest was just a mile away. My feet were already pretty worn out from my barefoot distance personal record an hour ago, but I was supposed to pick the girl up soon anyway. At least I had a sweat shirt on for the breezy 45 degree overcast weather.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, my husband’s voice began talking to me from out of the past saying, “Try to get in through the kitchen window.” I tried to ignore him, but he was persistent. I walked to the kitchen window and verified that, yes, the handy pull tabs are on the inside. Sigh. You need to understand that I have tender hands. I don’t like pressure on my fingers. I wanted to learn the guitar until I felt what it was like to press on the strings. Absolutely unpleasant for me. I gave up my beginning efforts at knitting for the same reason. But here I was. It was either walk 2 miles more barefoot in the cold, while my ice cream melted on the counter, or test my super powers.
I placed both hands on the frame of the window screen, and with Spock-like concentration, applied pressure to move the screen sideways in its grooves. No super hero is able to master his powers easily the first time, and likewise, it took me a few tries before there was enough movement so that I could deftly grab the exposed edge and lift the whole screen out. Progress, but the glass was still solidly closed, with no ledges to push on. I prepared myself mentally. It was possible that it was locked.
All that practicing on the screen paid off, and I had the window open without delay. I thought about running and vaulting off of the picnic table to scale the 4.5 feet to the sill, there being nothing for a foot hold. But I decided that was pushing it for my first day as a super hero. Instead, I moved a patio chair over and managed to get my not-so-petite frame all frog-like into the window frame. I thought I was going to be stuck there until someone came home….
The narrow 3 inch edge of counter just across the sink taunted me. It said, “You can’t balance yourself here. You will fall.” To me, it was like tight-rope walking. Which ligaments was I going to tear? What was going to be bruised when I got up off of the kitchen floor. I tensed my left leg, then began to send the other out in slow motion, until my foot was firmly on the counter. I shifted my weight, and like a cat burglar, made it to the strip of counter. All that was left was to gracefully drop to the floor.
I know what some of you will say. “It was the ice cream on the counter that gave you your super powers.” If so, it just goes to show that I should eat ice cream daily. By the way, now that I have told you about my super powers and how to break into my house, I will have to permanently silence you. Well, maybe I’ll just lock my windows and hide a spare key somewhere on my vast acre. But either way, I am clearly a force to be reckoned with.