The key to the hotel room is worthy of its own fairytale. Two keys, really. Heavy and silver, and long enough to cross the entire palm of my hand. The pair of them,like a child’s stick-figure drawing of a man and a woman: lollipop heads on long narrow columns for bodies, each with a single jagged-edged flat foot splayed to one side.
Big as a wall, the front door of building 5 is equally worthy of a fairytale. Two key holes are stacked, one upon the other in its forest-green expanse.
As it turns out, I am not the only visitor to stand determinedly, then abjectly, before the door, unable to choose which keyhole to try, then jabbing uselessly at one and then the other, fighting against unseen chambers that refuse to roll themselves into welcoming surrender.
I was given the keys when I registered at the front desk for my week-long stay here. I’ve come to this old stone abbey-turned-conference center for a dream conference. The setting is fittingly labyrinthine, with hallways that turn in rectangular spirals, bordering courtyards, dead-ending into the steps to a chapel, then descending into a crypt. The rooms have been converted to meeting halls and 3- and 4-star hotel rooms. But details like eye-shaped windows recessed in stairwells, wooden pegs jutting from wooden beams, and of course the heavy doors and skeleton keys, remind us always where we are.
I try the keys again and again in the large green door. I push then pull, then slide my bags from my shoulders onto the cobblestones and try again. The symbolism of doors that won’t budge, the jabbing and wrenching of skeleton keys that won’t turn, is not lost on one who has immersed herself in the alphabets of archetypes and alchemy.
Finally, a Dutchman, unasked, takes the key from my hand, glides it into the bottom lock, twists and pushes with unhurried force, and says, simply, “Like this,” as he hands the keys back and disappears on his way.
At last I enter the building. Enter into this time of immersion into the mystery of dreams.
The moment of mastery comes only after frustrated effort then surrender then a door opening into the next chamber.
And then, three flights up, another locked door, another key in my hand. Countless dreams to unlock.