Once and Again...Once Again
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Summary of A Door, About to Open
by Manh Tuong Lewis Nguyen
edited by Elizabeth Angela
A series of scenes slowly unfolds. A half-ripped card lies on a floor. Rick's car drives up to Lily's home. Lily folds a red sweater. Rick opens the back door for Jessie, who appears frightened. The card is now being put back together. An angry Eli comes out of the car. Zoe looks out the front window, staring at Rick's family. Eli holds Jessie's hand while they walk towards the Manning residence. Lily comes down the stairs to be with Zoe. Rick and his children approach the door. Grace comes downstairs with a card bearing Jessie's name. She hands it to Zoe. Rick rings the doorbell.
Twenty hours before this moment, Rick and Lily are on the phone. Rick, working late at his office, complains about what a slavedriver Miles Dentrell is and notices that he received e-mail from him. At home straightening her closet, Lily hears the background sounds of Rick's e-mail program and takes him to task about it. Rick quickly changes the topic towards Eli's growing infatuation with his new girlfriend, Cassidy. Lily mentions that Zoe is now worried about global warming.
Suddenly, Lily discovers an old, red sweater of her father's. Still on the phone with Rick, she walks to the bathroom mirror to try it on. In a flash, she announces to Rick that their children should meet the next night. Although Rick is a bit more tentative, he acquiesces to Lily's request.
The next morning, over breakfast at their respective homes, Rick and Lily tell their kids of the plans, describing it as an informal get-together with pizza. Zoe wants to know: "What kind of pizza?" Eli has to check with Cassidy first. Jessie jokingly suggests that she has to check with Cassidy as well, but she does not appear particularly pleased. Grace is more concerned with borrowing the red sweater that Lily has been wearing than she is with dinner. As they prepare to leave for school, Zoe remembers to wear her fisherman's hat as a way to protect herself from the diminishing ozone layer.
In the high school carpool lane, Rick is on the phone with Miles. As Lily stops at the school to drop off Grace, she sees Rick's car and leaves her car to talk to him. As they discuss the plans for that evening, Zoe mildly taunts Grace about liking Eli, or at least that is what Zoe thinks after eavesdropping on Grace's phone conversations. To quiet her little sister, Grace warns her that she might have skin cancer and not even know it. A visibly frightened Zoe shuts up.
When Lily comes up to Rick's car, he is too busy with Miles to talk to her. Lily knocks on the window to signal a hello to Jessie. Eli, who has been slow in getting his stuff, quickens his pace when he notices his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer, approaching.
Eli and Grace bump into each other in front of the school and exchange a few words. Jessie looks at them forlornly. [In a quick succession of Black & White interviews, Jessie states, "I'll eat with anyone, but sometimes I'm not hungry for dinner."] [Eli says, "I already know one of them...kind of."] [Grace, smiling happily, declares, "I don't care. We could all have dinner together. I just don't know what we're going to talk about."]
Grace is about to say something when Eli runs off to meet with Cassidy and her friends. Grace looks on disgustedly.
Realizing he's not getting off the phone any time soon, Lily finally leaves a still busy Rick. Meanwhile, from the Manning car, Zoe looks intently at Jessie. She is curious about this blond girl who is near her own age. Jessie, on the other hand, is watching Grace trying to tie the red sweater around her waist. [In an interview, Zoe says, "I wish I could be in one of those families, like Little Women, where there's a choice of sisters, so you're not stuck with one."] Lily, back in her car, describes Jessie to Zoe, mentioning Jessie's intelligence and Tae Kwon Do.
Almost immediately, however, Lily notices her friend, Naomi, and leaves the car, once again, to talk to her. Naomi is talking to another mom, Arlene. In a matter of seconds, Arlene blurts out two things that Naomi has not mentioned to Lily: a book group that Naomi started (with the group now reading Anne Tyler's St. Maybe) and the fact that today is Naomi's birthday. Naomi tries to explain that she thought Lily would be too busy for the book club and as for her birthday, Naomi is going to spend time with her family. Excitedly, Lily interrupts to say that her children will be meeting Rick's children tonight -- and that she's a little apprehensive about it. Naomi is slightly surprised, but when she starts to suggest that perhaps Lily should delay the kids' meeting, Lily quickly wraps up the conversation to head once more over to Rick's car.
Since Rick is still too busy on his cell phone, Lily returns to her car and drives away, but not without pausing her car beside Rick's to exchange waves. Jessie and Zoe, in their respective back seats, take measure of each other. Lily drives off, with an excited Zoe asking again about the plans for that evening.
At his architectural firm, Rick and David meet with an overcritical Miles, who is looking intently on the placement of a curved wall. David is clearly annoyed. Rick tries to appease Miles. They all work through lunch.
At school, Jennifer confronts Grace at her locker. Jennifer notices that Cassidy's friends, Lisa and Rachel (who used to be Jennifer's friends until she broke up with Eli) are watching them, so Jennifer and Grace move to another hallway. Jennifer informs Grace that Cassidy is sleeping with someone else, and wants Grace to tell Eli. When Grace is unsure about what to do, Jennifer appeals to her by saying that Eli is not "self-confidence boy."
At the law office, Karen and Naomi are having lunch, but all Naomi wants to do is badmouth Lily -- she talks too much about Rick (while Karen NEVER talks about Leo), she never asks how Naomi is doing, she throws herself from one screwed up relationship into another, and the meeting of the kids is furthering Lily's fantasy. The last bit of news seems to stun Karen a bit.
At Jake's apartment, Tiffany is caring for her sick boyfriend: "Okay, I may not believe in the flu, but according to this (thermometer), you do." Telling Jake not to worry, she announces that she will pick up the kids from school.
Grace is in the high school locker room when Lisa and Rachel surround her. They threaten her if she ever tells Eli about "that lie that is untrue." Grace holds her temper until one of them asks why a white girl would date a black guy like Jared? Grace explodes, calling her a "meshugennah racist bitch." Grace is about to leave, when they tell her that Eli knows about her feelings for him. The bullies leave; Grace is confused and hurt.
Miles, Rick and David have just completed their meeting. When David is out of earshot, Miles reminds Rick to leave David out of the process. When Miles leaves, David confronts Rick for giving in to everything Miles desires. Rick argues that he is "handling him." Karen's arrival prompts David to leave, but not before first making a point about Miles: "He makes you doubt me."
Karen needs Jessie's summer camp papers signed, but Rick has not even had time to look at them, let alone sign them. As he searches frantically for the papers, Karen suggests that Rick may not want Jessie to go to camp. Rick asks why she would think that? Informing him that she is aware of the kids' meeting that night, she asks him if he talked to Eli and Jessie about this? Rick angrily replies that he did. [In an interview, Karen asks, "Am I supposed to allow another woman to take care of my kids?"]
While Rick continues to looking for the papers, the phone rings. It is Lily. Rick asks her to hold on, finds the papers, signs them quickly, and hands them to Karen who then leaves. Rick is back on the phone with Lily who suggests that instead of pizza, they order a large submarine sandwich. Rick says he wants the night to be casual. Lily gets defensive, and hangs up.
Karen enters Judy's bookstore to buy a copy of St. Maybe for Naomi's book group. [And while she states in the interview that she does not want to know Lily, she is also there to check Lily out, not knowing that Lily no longer works at the bookstore.] Judy, talking on the phone to Sam, the married man she slept with and supposedly dumped, hangs up when she sees this new customer. Karen introduces herself to Judy as Rick's ex-wife. Judy is clearly stunned. Judy introduces herself as Lily's sister, and notes that Karen is not how she pictured Rick's ex-wife to be.
As Rick drives to the high school with his daughter to pick up Eli from school, he describes Grace to Jessie. He suggests that if she is able to pull up Eli's grades, then Grace must be incredibly smart.
Outside the high school, Eli catches up with Grace and tells her that he needs her assistance on an essay that was already due. When he notices that she is upset, Grace says that she does not like his friends. Eli figures out that it cannot be his male friends and considering the fact he has no female friends, he deduces that it must be Cassidy's friends. When Eli jokes that Cassidy is sleeping around, he notices Grace getting pale. From her expression, he realizes the truth.
Pulling up to the school, Rick then sees his son and Grace and tries to introduce a reluctant Grace to Jessie. However, Jessie is not to be found. In the meantime, sitting beside another car,Tiffany and Zoe wait for Grace. Zoe tells Tiffany that she will be getting a new sister. When Tiffany asks if she is mad at Grace, Zoe calmly says, "No, I just hate her." Zoe then asks if Tiffany hates Grace, too. Tiffany, by way of a Drew Barrymore analogy, suggests that people can have different feelings for different people. They then see Grace, who quickly leaves Rick and Eli to enthusiastically welcome Tiffany. Jessie comes back once Grace is safely gone, telling her father that she was at a water fountain. Tiffany, surprised by Grace's positive reception, asks Grace if she is happy to see her. Grace's affirmative response makes Tiffany walk with more of a bounce.
From their respective offices, Rick and Lily talk on the phone again, with Lily refining the arrangements. Lily suggests that they make pizzas, so that each child will get what they want. Rick tries to slow things down, and even mentions that Jessie has seemed uncomfortable. Lily, again defensive, hangs up. David then comes in the office to present Rick with a bottle of expensive scotch. Attached to it is a card from Miles, thanking Rick prematurely for working late.
Seated at the bookstore's children's table, Karen and Judy continue talking. Karen even talks about Leo, while Judy mentions her "involved man." Karen comments she forgot what infatuation was like. Judy then tells Karen that Lily is really great. A friendship seems to be forming.
Christie, Lily's boss, has been holding the phone while Lily was in the washroom. Christie informs her that Tiffany picked up the kids and talked to Zoe about the ozone layer, resulting in Zoe no longer wearing that hat. Lily is amazed and none too pleased. [In an interview, Lily -- echoing Karen -- says that she does not want to know Tiffany and have her near her children.]
Rick calls Miles to say that he cannot work that night. From his massage table, in his own subtle way, Miles threatens Rick if he does not work. Rick opens the scotch, empties his pencil holder, and drinks up, then capitulates to Miles.
At Lily's workplace, Christie tells Lily about her own stepmother, a lovely woman who tries too hard, which causes Christie to hate her. Although this was Christie's way of easing Lily's tension over Tiffany, it produces another effect -- Lily realizes that she has gone overboard with plans for the night.
Rick calls Lily to tell her that the meeting has to be cancelled in order for him to work. A now-relieved Lily is fine with that news. Rick still feels guilty and drinks some more scotch.
Eli drives by Cassidy's home and he sees her making out with another guy. Eli is obviously pained to learn that Grace's news is true.
Lily returns home, and notices her dad's sweater lying on the entryway floor. As she puts it on, Zoe shows her mother the card she made for Jessie -- a glittery affair that mentions something about Tae Kwon Do. Grace comes down the stairs and asks whether "meshugennah" means "crazy", for that was something Lily's father would say. As Lily struggles to wrap a gift for Naomi's birthday, she tells her girls that the meeting for the night has been cancelled. Zoe, visibly upset, rushes up to her room. Lily yells to Zoe that she will go to Naomi's and quickly come back to speak with her. Grace is relieved upon hearing the news.
Alone in Rick's apartment, Jessie checks herself in the mirror with a sweater around her waist, a la Grace. Rick calls her to tell her that the plans have been postponed. Jessie says "whatever", but is extremely happy.
As Rick hangs up, David announces that HE won't be the one to drive home a slightly inebriated Rick. Before he leaves, David adds a twist to the remarks he made earlier about the effect Miles Drentell has: he hates how Miles makes Rick doubt himself.
Zoe, still upset, tears up her card and cries on her pillow. Noticing this from the adjoining bathroom, Grace is not particularly sympathetic. Zoe screams at Grace for being a mean sister.
Lily knocks on Naomi's door. Opening it, Naomi is taken aback to see Lily. As Lily hands Naomi the gift, she notices that Arlene is present, as well as other female friends of Naomi's. Lily is not pleased, but Naomi is frustrated. Naomi quickly rattles off things Lily has done over the past year that result in Lily not caring about Naomi's boring marriage problems and taking advantage of their friendship.
Lily is speechless, the gift still in her hands. Her own hands full, Naomi abruptly instructs her to put in the hallway table. After she puts the gift down, Lily places her hands in the pockets of her father's sweater and feels something strange. She pulls out an old envelope on which Phil had written "Get presents 4 kids." Lily focuses intently on the "4 kids" part, then notices Karen, who is reading a passage from the book, St. Maybe in the adjoining room.
Karen reads, "'I'd like you to meet the woman who has changed my life', he said."
[In a B&W interview, she continues: "Oh, your LIFE. And she tipped her head and smiled."]
[In Lily's interview, she picks up the book and carries on: "After all, she might have said this was an ordinary occurrence. People change other people's lives every day of the year. There was no call to make a fuss about it."]
As the party continues around them, Karen and Lily share a meaningful look -- understanding that their lives will continue to intertwine.
Lily meets Rick at his office. Lily acknowledges how both of them, during the past year, wanted to either quicken the pace or slow things down. But maybe, just maybe, they are where they are supposed to be. Lily then talks about signs, omens that forewarn people of something extraordinary happening to their lives. She talks about the 4 kids -- "I've had four kids ever since I've been in your life." Then she notices that Rick has been drinking.
Rick, changing the topic, admits to enjoying the kids not being a part of their relationship. She understands, but says that it is time to include them. Rick agrees, and calls Miles to leave a message -- he will not be working tonight for he has other more important engagements to attend to. Lily suggests that they order pizza to keep things simple.
Returning to his apartment, Rick informs Eli and Jessie that they are all going to Lily's home tonight. Neither of the kids is pleased with the turn of events. Eli does not like Grace at the moment, which makes Jessie so happy that she hugs him. Eli tells his father he does not want to go. Although Rick understands, he tells his son that he needs him to drive them, tossing a stunned Eli the car keys.
The episode now comes full circle, repeating scenes played out at the beginning, but with a new meaning attached to them.
Graces sees a torn card in Zoe's bedroom.
Rick's car stops in front of the Manning home. Rick opens Jessie's side door. Jessie is very nervous.
Lily is folding her father's red sweater.
Eli, who drove, comes out of the car as well.
The card is being fixed.
Eli holds Jessie's hands as they advance towards the house.
Lily places the sweater deep inside her drawer.
The card is put together again with tape.
Zoe looks out the front window, staring at the kids.
A smiling Lily comes down to stand behind her youngest daughter.
Grace comes down as well, and gives the card to Zoe. Zoe gives her big sister an appreciative look.
The doorbell rings.
The door is open.
Wordlessly, they all meet -- Rick, Eli, and Jessie, Lily, Grace, and Zoe all together.
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