Saturday, February 02, 2008

Going home.

Last night i dreamed of my childhood home.

Usually when i dream of it, i am young and very small, standing next to the side of it, staring up. It looms large and dark and surrounded in gloom, and i am uneasy.

Last night, i walked up its front porch steps as an adult, and the weather was bright and clear. i used a key to open the front door, admiring the old door from my childhood, and remembering how much i loved that big covered porch as a child. i entered the foyer and looked around. It was a house between owners, and i was looking at it like a prospective buyer but thinking, "i want this house back."

It was much as i remembered it when i first saw it as a 5 year old child--furnitureless, but with great bones. High ceilings, lovely bay windows, and hardwood floors mellowed with time. When i was 5 it was a great huge house with the promise of newness. By the time i left at the end of high school, it was broken and shattered, and so were we.

But last night i walked into it as if to reclaim it, take it and make it what my child-self had seen at 5. Fill it with good life, and honor the beauty of its bones, as it should have been.

Then i was seeing it from the rear of the house as if a dollhouse, the floors and rooms open to view. And there i could see the separateness of the family as we lived in my later years--my father, alone and in his own world in the front room, he and the incessant speaking of the television in the background; my mother sitting in the kitchen, staring into space, elbow on the table, smoking her cigarette with a certain grace like a 40's movie star. And me, i would be in my bedroom, reading or playing the guitar, or writing. Three separate people living in one house, but each alone. This is what i saw in my dream.

i can't honestly pretend to know what that means--i mean, i see the shift from anxious child to calm adult. i see the awareness of that beautiful house as simply the place where the players lived out their lives, making choices for good and for evil. i hope it means that at 54 i can continue to move forward in my perspective of my childhood to a place where it does not hold parts of me in fear.

i do know that when i came downstairs this morning, basket of laundry in my hands, that walking through the yet undone living room waiting patiently for its sheetrock and paint didn't bother me as much as usual. It's still a place where we have lived and laughed and had Christmas with little children. It's not been all good, but i don't suppose anything is, but we've tried and grown and learned and hopefully moved closer together as family rather than farther apart.

i think our struggle to remain connected as family is part of what defines us. In my childhood, there were great struggles against each other, and then great periods of silence. i think that's why i'm happy with the sounds of children playing around me--it soothes me.

But it was good to see that old house again.


Unknown said...

Did we grow up in the same house? Are you my long lost sister that know one told me about?

It sounds to me as if you may be moving forward and making peace with the past. Not an easy task. I have made a wee bit of progress in that area, but am no where near where I want to be in this stage of my life.

julia said...

Hmmm...maybe that was a more common home than the Leave It to Beaver style. ;-) And don't you just hate that we're this old and still bound in some ways from our early years? Frustrating!!

Anonymous said...

so what does it mean when you buy a home that looks like your childhood home, but don't even realize it until you bring pictures home and your family points it out to you? all i knew was it felt like home the minute i walked in the door.
p.s. you do know me, it's jenner, although i cannot seem to get my account to work anymore, no matter how many times i yell at the screen.
a day in the life of harpo the dog

Anonymous said...

by the way, thanks for the blog about missing my mom. it made me cry and i dont even think i finished reading the whole thing. its just nice to know someone else misses her too.

julia said...

JENNER!!! NO WAY! NO WAY! NO WAY!! NO FREAKIN' WAY!! So, is how i originally found Harpo the Dog Blog that you came to my blog? How cool is it to hear from you?? Now i'll have to move you to the other list. ;-)

i'll miss your mom forever.

How ARE you?

Tersie said...

thank you for sharing this. it made me cry, but in a good way. it made me long for something. i think it's something i have felt very little of. i remember that feeling when i was much much younger. togetherness, family, under the roof of a house that is also a home. i guess i have every opportunity to do that with my girls now that the dark cloud has chosen to leave our presence instead of hover over us. i have a lot of work to do in this home to repair the damage that has been done -- emotional and physical. i don't want to stay here forever. i don't think it's healthy -- emotionally or physically. maybe a new place to call home can bring a more real sense of that feeling you described. growing, working, living, laughing, loving.

thank you.

julia said...

Thanks, Tersie--i'm glad you enjoyed the post--and yes, i can see where it could be healthy to start fresh in a new place that you and your girls can make your own. Sounds reasonable to me!