In 753 BC, after killing his twin brother Remus in a struggle for power, Romulus founded the city of Rome (naming it after himself) and declared himself king. Romulus had big plans for Rome. But the Roman population was limited. Women were needed to make babies. So Romulus organized a big festival and invited people from the surrounding villages including the Sabines. Apparently the Sabine women had some kind of je ne sais quoi as they were targeted by the Romans, abducted, and forced into marriage. Not wanting to live with their Forced Upon Husbands, the Sabine brides rebelled and had to be forcibly carried over the threshold of their new homes. This was the beginning of a tradition that continues today—that of a groom carrying his bride over the threshold of their new home.
When I arrived in Italy c. 40 years ago, it was the norm to say “Permesso?” (May I come in?) before entering someone’s home. Maybe it was a custom that started because, since entering someone’s home without permission was a crime, it was best to ask permission before crossing the threshold. Although a formality rarely practiced today, I continue to do so as a sign of respect.
Not all thresholds are physical. Some, such as threshold experiences, are in the mind. Like an epiphany, a threshold experience is a moment of sudden realization. Like a portal, it can take you from one reality to another.
Tomorrow we will be leaving our little Parian home. Departure makes me listless and sad. Hopefully, while lingering on the threshold before we close the door and lock it, I will try to convince myself that crossing the threshold is not the leaving behind of something but, instead, the promise of a new beginning.
Sometimes the only way to obliterate a boundary is to cross it.