She had a dream last night that she’s had on and off for the last ten years.
The dream goes like this: She’s in a house that she lives in and knows intimately.
But she discovers a whole new part of the house that she never knew existed, and she goes through it, exploring, and wondering at all the space that has been there, all this time, unbeknownst to her.
The original dream always takes place in a dream-created house, a perfectly round house with bedrooms off the central round hallway. The dream-created round house has a thatched roof and seems to be built up in the air – on stilts, maybe? and it is always dark and cool and shady in the dream-created round house. And the previously undiscovered section is full of sheet-covered furniture and dust.
But last night’s dream was a variation on the original house dream. Last night’s dream took place in a house she used to own, a small white stucco house that she lived in for ten years.
This was the house on Girard Avenue, the one in which she lived before she was married and after she was married, the house she was pregnant in, the house to which she brought two babies home from the hospital and then another one from a far-off land.
It was a small house, a bungalow, and all the rooms were small. Two small bedrooms in the back of the first floor, two more upstairs. A bathroom on the main floor. A tiny kitchen with no dishwasher. She used to do four sinkfuls of dishes a day, back then, when the babies were all babies and toddlers.
Over time, they added a room and a very small slanted-ceiling bathroom upstairs. They finished part of the basement. They redid the tiny kitchen and added a dishwasher and a new refrigerator.
They sold the small house and moved to a bigger one, which conversely had fewer rooms, although they were much larger, and which, strangely enough, did not have as much room for guests.
Since that larger house she has moved four times, despite the fact that she loathes moving, and now she lives in another house entirely, an interesting house in the same neighborhood.
She has always lived within six blocks of that very first small house. She’s tried, during the four-move-era, to force herself to move to a different neighborhood (cheaper, closer to children’s friends, etcetera), but she can’t. She loves her neighborhood, what can she say. She’s rooted here.
The old small house is only three blocks from the house she lives in now, and sometimes, when she’s out walking her dog, she walks past it. Twice now, in the past three months, she has seen the family that bought it coming out of the front door.
She and the wife of the family recognize each other and smile and wave when this happens. The children of the family, unborn when their parents bought the house, are now twelve and ten.
But back to last night’s dream. In it, she was back in the small house on Girard Avenue. Everything was the same as it had been when she left the house and she greeted each room with a combination of loneliness and happiness: oh, here you are again, and here you are too, you’ve been here all along, hello, hello.
Except that there were more rooms. There were five bedrooms on the main floor alone.
And there was a whole wing to the house, a wing that she had never before noticed – a spacious living room, a family room, another room-room, two bedrooms down a hallway, and a large bathroom. She wandered through this wing, admiring all the space and wishing so much that she had known about it when she lived in this house. She never would have moved, had she known.
The two additional bedrooms were messy. Linens needing to be changed, comforters thrown in a heap, no decorative efforts whatsoever. Same with the big bathroom. All that could easily be changed, though. A few weekends of garage sales and flea markets and thrift stores – her favorite activities – and this whole new big wing would be transformed.
And then there would be so much space. So much space for anyone who wanted to live there or come visit. Plenty of room and privacy for her parents, her sisters, her brother, her nieces and nephews, her far-off friends – anyone. Come visit!
She woke up.
Why does she keep having this dream? One of her sisters writes down every dream she has, the minute she wakes up. This is a good idea, she thinks, so here she is, writing down this particular dream.
Does the dream mean that there is more room in her house and mind and heart than she thought? Has she ignored all the space and place that’s been there all along?
She wants those empty rooms. Every time she wakes from this dream she wants, wants, wants all that space. But if it’s there in the dream then it must already be here, somewhere, in life, right? There must be an invisible door somewhere, a door that she can press on and then twirl through to find all that calm and peaceful and empty space.
How can she find that door?
You may find yourself in a beautiful house. You may ask yourself, how did I get here?
You say it honey – I love this.
I think you have it just right. And that last quote – that is from Talking Heads, right?
Yes, it’s from the Talking Heads – you got it, Pepper.
really enjoyed this – thinking a lot about home and place and hospitality as i adjust to a new phase of life gracelessly.
i just read your blog, hope – it’s great. as for adjusting gracelessly, if you had to move somewhere where your heart is not, then you have all my sympathies. hang in there.
thanks, alison! and i’m glad you like the blog. trying to come up with the next post, but feeling bleak….