Saturday, March 27, 2010
A couple of nights ago, I decided to drive by the house I grew up in. I was in the area, teaching the last of my Junior High creative writing program (through WCATY) and it was late - post-drink with a new friend, pre-hotel return. The times before back in the area are sometimes overloaded with emotion and I can't go anywhere near the north side of town. But this time, everything closed down but me, it was ok. I drifted along the streets, through blinking red lights, tracing the paths of 18 years of life, followed by a few mixed ones after - dating someone back in the home town, brother still living in parents' house after mom died - and it felt wonderfully stimulating (wish I could predict things like that! such good writing time) as opposed to traumatizing.
A block away I saw the for-sale sign on the house next door, then, as I got closer, yes, a for-sale at 1414, the house I grew up in. Without thinking, I took out my iPhone and entered the information for the realtor and sent it to myself, before I could judge anything. I knew I probably wouldn't call, that it, in fact, might be bad news to do so, but I did go back to see my grandmother's house years after she died, and it did resolve at least this feeling like her old place wasn't haunting me anymore.
When I am ready, it will be good to call on the new owners, whomever they are at that point, and walk through this house where I grew up. It had already changed around a lot before my brother sold it - totally re-done interior: wood floor where the green matted carpets used to be, exposed brick where plaster used to crack. Then, all of a sudden, it was sold.
Last night I had a dream along the lines of two kinds of dreams I've had about that house for many years. The first sort (not what I had last night) is more of a waking dream - lucid, lyrical - in which I think of "home" and what comes to mind is not the house I have owned for nearly 6 years, but *that* home, my childhood home. The two lay over each other in a strange, very dream-like way, sometimes as I sleep and often as I am awake. But what happened last night was the second sort - I dream of the house, of living in it, visiting it, and it is wholly different than could even physically happen. Once I dreamt a woman had turned it into a ballroom dancehall kind of place (the ceilings are stuck at a firm four-square frame house height of ten feet) and last night, that some incredibly hip and lovely loft-building couple had turned it into a place of total light and sparkly corners, completely altering it to its core. It was hard for me, in the dream, to be both happy for it and also sad to have lost the simple place I recall - often, now, in memory exercises where I make maps and lists of what was in every room. They told me they were trying to sell it for a million (Why would you fix it to your desires then sell it? I asked, and they had no reply) which wouldn't work for the location in my hometown the house is in.
But I loved it this way, too. I tried to take ideas and think of bringing them back here, to the home I actually own, the one I am in right now, writing. I couldn't shake this desire to buy that house - that new version of the old house - in toto. Maybe I wanted to freeze it from changing, or maybe I just loved that it was new and old, even as it was hard for me. I told them about my childhood neighbors and what I knew of the history of the neighborhood. They were delighted but also not committed to staying there.
Like me. You couldn't get me to move back there, not to that house, or that town. I don't hate it or find it a bad place - I think it's quite a good place, actually - but it's not my home. Madison is my home. Right?
I called Dylan and mentioned the For Sale sign, debated whether I would call the next day, whether I should tell the truth (I used to live here, saw it was for sale, and wanted to look but am not looking to buy it) or fake it. I don't think I could have faked it, and Dylan agreed, but also warned me that the truth might not get me in - it might with a current owner, but not with a realtor.
I didn't call. In the end, it was too messy emotionally and I was too tired. Instead, I went to Horicon Marsh on my way home, one of my favorite places on this whole earth. I found a new place to enter in and drove along a quiet road, listening to peepers and barking geese. Finding "home" out in the middle of the marsh, looking out over the flattened cattails and sharp blue waters really re-centered me in a way I am certain going to 1414 wouldn't have done. And by the time I did get *home* much later last night, I knew I was where I am supposed to be.
Waking this morning after the confusing dream, I fell into a fog for an hour or so. Where am I? What do I need? What is home? I opened up the images I took at Horicon - the place my subconscious directed me in the middle of my meanderings - and felt re-honed, re-centered, at home.
Wisconsin. Yes, both that home and this home - 1414 and Madison - are home. Horicon is also home. I am home all the time. I carry me with me all the time. The dream is the truth, and right now typing in bed is also truth - a much bigger truth than the stories of where, when - a truth that is also much simpler.
I am home for me, and all of my memories are fodder to keep the homefires burning, as are fantasies and now-moment realities. All my mysterious productions - plays on words, dramas of the mind - all of them point to the same thing, not contradicting things. I just had to back off enough to see what they were all pointing to in their chaos. Many thanks to Horicon for bringing that truth home to me.