Friday, January 9, 2009

My Dream House

Sometimes I wake up from a dream, and it is so vivid that it doesn't rapidly fade with consciousness. Early this morning, I dreamed of the house that I lived in as a child. It is an old remodeled farmhouse, and when I lived there was right at the edge of Moscow, Idaho. Today, that house sits well inside the town, next to the junior high school.

In my dream, the house's rear fa├žade is covered with a thick blue-green stucco that's similar in color to the painted wood shake exterior of the house of my youth. The stucco rounds the angles of the house. I walk to the side. The stucco doesn't extend to this side of the house, and the clapboard siding has been painted white. I sit down on the grass and peer through an open door.

A child is running through the house. A woman follows the child, and they cross a short distance to an older farmhouse, the house the woman lives in. The child is one of my grandchildren, although I have no idea which one. The woman is my mother-in-law, but in my dream looks very different than I remember, but I know who she is. I'm well within the range of vision of the child and the woman, but they don't see me, and I remain sitting, taking in the scene.

Another woman comes bounding along the side of the house, on her way to the older farmhouse. She is vibrant, smiling, and happy, skipping down a path. She is my former wife. She, too, doesn't see me, although I'm clearly in the scene. I take all of this in, and I'm also happy and moved by this domestic picture.

Several things stand out in this dream. The first striking element is the stucco wall. It's presented to me in the dream from a low angle against a deep blue sky. The wall extends above the lower edge of the roof. Between the utility room and the shed, the roof has a curious cupola, for what purpose I don't know. The wall is solid and stolid, a protection against the outside. Curiously, it's only in the back of the house.

I see the child through an open door in the side of the house, which has angles and walls that don't exist when the dreaming ends. Yet, I clearly recognize this dream house as my own. The light plays in the shadows of the doorway and hall, and I can feel the life in this house. That life is also in the shadows, not unhappy, but full of concerns.

My mother-in-law represents those concerns as she follows the running child. She's dressed in black, and her face is strained with a weary anxiety. She is tired. Her house, Grandma's House, is a pure figment of my dream. I don't see all of it, only a corner along a path between the two houses. Her house remains hidden by a small grove of tall bushes, maybe lilacs or mountain ash.

My former wife skips along a path, happy. I hope so, from the fullness of my heart. She's an antidote to the shadows. Maybe she's rushing to catch up with the other two. I don't know. But she's radiantly happy, and her smile fills her face, as I have rarely seen it.

Finally, I sit quietly on the grass in the midst of this scene. It only lasts a moment, then it's gone and I wake up. Nobody sees me. I'm invisible to all.

This dream has so much going on. The stucco wall is on the side of the house facing Grandma's house. The wall sets the two structures apart. In the waking world, the path went to a pasture, and a barn across the draw. Where Grandma's house stands was a vegetable garden.

The child (my mother-in-law's great-grandchild) is innocence in the shadows, then running free in the sunlight. My mother-in-law, who in life always had a smile and a love for even me, the black sheep in the family, is troubled and vexed in her own dream home. She died two years ago about this time, and is buried in the Freeze Cemetery. She and my former wife were at odds with each other shortly before her death, and maybe her face reflects that sadness and weight.

My former wife is happy again. She's rediscovered herself. When we were married she was sad. When we divorced she was angry, and the anger simmered for a long time. But now, she's happy again, skipping after her grandchild, on her way to her mother's house, and I sit there, marveling, taking in this holy transformation of a family life so close to me, but untouchable, and invisible. This is my dream house.