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.