Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I dream about houses a lot.

In dreams of longing, I somehow get transported to the house on Louther Street in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We lived there for a miniscule year and three months; it was a five-bedroom palace of neglected antiquity, with huge wooden pillars, a warped hardwood floor, eleven-foot ceilings ... and I could have lived there all the rest of my days. I loved that house. Should I be so fortunate as to get to Heaven, that house -- or its counterpart -- will be mine.

But for many years, every house in my dreams has been what was my mother's house. In my dreams, I lived there, no matter that nearly 40 years have passed since I did. The enclosed back porch, what had been my bedroom, the living room, the side yard ... one or more features would form the backdrop of my dreams. There's no wonder at that; my mother's decline into Alzheimer's and my sister's death anchored my subconscious there. What I had to do, and what I failed to do, what I watched crumble into an unholy mess -- all those things burned themselves into my heart.

Waking from dreams of my mother's house, I'd sigh, and wonder if I'd ever be free of it, rise, and go about the day. Sometimes you just have to let the dreams go, otherwise, you go nuts trying to outsmart your subconscious.

A couple nights ago, I was back there again, but there was a difference. Yes, there was still a sense of frustration that things couldn't be put right; yes, there was still a sense of accusation that I had failed somehow; but one thing was different: I was packing stuff up, getting ready to move away.

I stood at the top of the stairs, looking at the basement (that my father had in real life dug out and finished, but in the dream had been made into two rooms), and thought, "Well, I'll be out of here soon, and won't have to come back again."

What a thought for a dream! All the symbols in dreams are our own selves. Did my dream mean that I am soon going to die, and so the house that is me will be left behind?

When I woke, I just drifted with the sense of relief in the dream, and let it go at that. We're all going to die, some sooner than others, and I can't do anything about that. But relief -- that made me smile.

The next night, I dreamed I was back in Mifflintown (where I grew up) again, but instead of being in my mother's house, I was in this truly cool little boutique hotel down town, with wide cement steps to the upstairs, and comfy rooms. Why haven't I always stayed here when I've visited? I asked myself in the dream. It was so pleasant, and peaceful, and pretty -- a delightful fabrication of my dreaming mind.

And then, perhaps born of the triumph of not being in my mother's house, the next night I dreamed that I was staying in a beach-side resort, with very wide floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the beach, and a flight of wooden stairs leading from sliding doors off the bedroom to a deck below on the beach. Yeah. I could get into that. Big dark brown stones made a natural windbreak for the deck, and the sand was the light brown of the Pacific coast rather than the white sand of the Atlantic. I love it here, I thought, and woke up.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps in your next dream, you could meet an earnest young man who might woo you, perhaps ineffectively, and you could encourage him a little. You might even consider marrying him and spending your life patiently taking care of him, allowing him to be the luckiest man in the world. Just a suggestion.

Cheryl said...

I wonder who that anonymous commenter might have been?

Lydia Manx said...

I have house dreams. My own house where I grew up that my parents still live in - those are the semi-lucid dreams where I even walk the neighborhood and wonder how I got there. I also have my old friend's house 'remodeled' by my darker side.

I know your mom and sister are in a better place and I was happy you shared their world with me.