Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Oneiric Homestead

Last night was a dream-filled one for some reason. Maybe it was the crab burger earlier at the Claremont Tavern. The dreams had no coherent story arc as some of my dreams do. The location, though, was clear. They took place at my parents’ house on West Main Street in Brookside, which was home for nearly 20 years. Apparently my subconscious still regards it as such. The majority of my dreams range widely geographically, but, in the fairly large minority of cases when I do dream of being “home,” that home 80% of the time is the one on West Main Street. Most of the remaining 20% take place at the modest Schoolhouse Lane property that was the first real estate ever to be in my own name. If I ever had a dream set in my current house I don’t remember it even though I’ve lived here since 2001. There are occasions when I dream it is 2014 and I am my current age, but still live at West Main Street. More typically, though, it is decades ago and the house is also occupied by my parents and sister – even my dog – all of whom in reality are long gone now. It makes for a pleasant visit.

My dad, a builder, built the West Main Street house. I remember seeing it while it was being framed. I also remember the day we moved in. It was 1959 and I was 6. I played on the front yard with a stick that was my imaginary sword for battling pirates. (Nowadays boys are suspended from school if they are spotted acting out imaginary violence like that – though blowing things up in video games seems to be OK.) I remember, quite a few years later, swimming with my girlfriend Angela in the spring-fed pond in the back yard by the barn as well as the phone call (and the phone number) which ended that relationship. In between the stick and the phone call were the growing-up years, full of good times and hard, that weigh so much more in our lives than any other time period of the same objective length.

Unlike my house on Schoolhouse Lane, which after I sold it was torn down and replaced by one much larger, the West Main Street property still looks much the same as it did 40 or 50 years ago. I live only 6 miles away and pass it regularly when going to the town hall or post office. Yet, there is no sense of nostalgia or possession when seeing it awake. If the current owners choose to copy those on Schoolhouse Lane by tearing the structures down and building something else, I’ll feel no twinge. It’s a place where other people are making their memories now. Besides I seem fated to visit it repeatedly at night, and that’s enough.

Cass Elliot

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