12/09/2014 04:17 pm ET Updated Feb 08, 2015

Open Door Policy

I have no door on my bedroom. This is not a weird euphemism or metaphor; at my parents' house, there is literally no door on my room, only a wide, open archway with glass panels on the sides. When I was in elementary school, my parents renovated our house and created what can only be called an extremely (excessively?) open floor plan. The only rooms that have doors are the bathrooms, and a guest room.

When I was younger, this posed no significant issue for me. Sure, sometimes my sister would come in and steal my Playmobil grocery store set pieces, but let's be honest, this would have probably happened with or without a door to stop her. But, as I got older, I wanted privacy in my room. My mom's solution was to buy a curtain from IKEA, install a rod on the top of the doorway, and hang said curtain, leaving a roomy, approximately two-foot high gap between the bottom of the curtain and the floor. Poof: "Privacy." In high school, I was endlessly irritated by my doorlessness. When my friends came over, we hung out downstairs, in my living room, because without a door there was really no advantage to sitting on my bed over sitting on the couch. We baked a lot of cookies, which my family then ate, usually (but not always) after asking me.

Sometimes, a new friend would come over for the first time and ask to see my room. I would lead her up the steep, creaky stairs to my room, with a mural on one wall, another wall full of windows, and the third covered in bookcases, and she would stare at the fourth wall, the open doorway. "You don't have a door?" she would ask, incredulous. I would usually shrug, while cursing my open-minded, open-floor-planned parents for making my room such an oddity.

Now, when I go home for break, I lie on my bed with my laptop, watching TV. My suitcase sits in the corner of the room near my closet, the only indication that someone inhabits the room -- the rest of the room is cleaned and stripped bare of me save for my bookcases against the third wall. My mom comes into my room, asking why I don't go downstairs and watch my show on the living room TV. I respond that I want privacy, that downstairs I get endlessly judged for watching trashy romantic comedies, my family being of the more Citizen Kane than Love Actually persuasion. My room has somehow become a place of privacy, even though I have fewer of my personal possessions in it than ever.

When I'm sitting in Ithaca in my bedroom, door closed, I always feel like someone could walk in at any second. But this is not a frightening feeling. Rather, it reassures me, reminding myself that people are just outside the door. Because sometimes I forget, with the door in the way, that there is a world outside. Through all the trauma of lacking a door, I always knew exactly what was going on in my house. I can hear my sister brushing her teeth, or my mom making popcorn downstairs, or my dog chasing my dad around the house. I always resented that my room didn't feel like mine, because it was so much a part of the rest of the house, but now I know that I was part of the rest of the house too. So come on in, my door has never been there.