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After Work: Locked Out

…All it took was one little slip as I was checking off items on a mental to-do list. I was at the item labeled “Pick up mail”. Whoosh, the wind caught the door. Click, the door locked…

After Dona Gibbs locked herself out of her house an unanticipated Open Writing column tumbled into her lap.

For more of Dona’s polished words please click on After Work in the menu on this page..

I locked myself out of the house yesterday.

All it took was one little slip as I was checking off items on a mental to-do list. I was at the item labeled “Pick up mail”. Whoosh, the wind caught the door. Click, the door locked.

I then did all the things people do when they’ve locked themselves out of the house. I rattled the door angrily and mumbled under my breath. I then tried all the other doors and windows. Finally I resigned myself that I was indeed locked out until dusk and Ever-Enthusiast Husband would bound in from his golf game.

What to do?

The answer was nothing. That’s right. There was nothing to do.

I sank into a wooden outdoor chair and scanned the mail. Nothing but catalogues -- a diversion none the less. At least for ten minutes.

My goodness, this chair is hard. Now I understand why dinner guests start squirming after the appetizer. I must think about getting some cushions.

“Good chance to weed the flower pots,” told myself.

Another seven minutes filled but no receptacle to throw the wilting dandelions into. It was inside the house.

“Okay I’ll pull the weeds from between the paving stones,” I was cheered by doing something productive.

The roots were wedged in tight, as tight as a locked door, and the weeding tool was inside the house.

Still angry with myself, I flung myself back into the chair.

“I could hop into the pool,” I suggested to my pouting self.

“With all your clothes on?” Pouting Self was incredulous. “Your bathing suit is inside the house.”

“I could write my Open Writing column,” I mused.

“You have no pencil and not a scrap of paper,” Pouting Self retorted.

“Well, I could write it in my head.”

“In your head? You can’t even remember to push the door’s unlock button. You’ve locked yourself out!” Pouting Self was quickly turning into Huffy Self.

I sank back as much as one can sink into a teak chair and gazed at the sky.

Grey clouds were scuttling across the western horizon and the wind was picking up. A sparrow hawk twittered. I spied him riding the currents, swirling and swooping.

Strange thing about sparrow hawks, I pondered. Their cry is one of a small bird, a denizen of the bushes and shrubs. And small birds are their prey. Adaptation is an interesting thing, isn’t it? But why, oh why, haven’t sparrows and songbirds caught on that the cheerful chirping signals a predator? Or maybe they have, I really don’t know.

I heave myself out of the chair and walk around the garden. I find a healthy butterfly weed. It’s grown up amid the fox tail ferns. I think about yanking it up. Its garish orange doesn’t suit the location where it’s put down deep roots.

“A weed is a flower in the wrong place,” I remind myself. I leave it to thrive. After all, it fulfills its promise: it attracts butterflies. And it is a Florida native. More than I can say for myself.

I gaze out at the golf course. There’s a foursome of men putting. Without seeing the ball, I know if they’ve been successful in sinking it. I only have to watch their body language. A fist thrown jubilantly into the air. A rueful headshake. Triumph or failure telegraphed.

I admire the potted agave plant. Its prickly swords spread out four feet. I see it’s happily produced baby agaves at its base.

I marvel at the burgundies and maroons of the copper leaf planted along the fence. I stroke the blossoms of the chenille plant.

Pouting Self had retreated. Huffy Self had calmed down.

Terns are circling. Yes, the weather is changing. Terns only come inland when a storm on the water is threatening.

“What that?”

There’s a knock on the glass door. The other side of the glass door. From inside.

It’s Ever-Enthusiastic Husband. He’s home and I’m locked out no longer.

For a while it was good to be locked out. Away from garbage bags and tools. Away from the telephone and computer. But only for a little while.


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