When I was young, our first house was a solid, stoic colonial built in the 1930’s. It was cozy and comfortably worn in and it’s walls held decades of secrets. I liked to imagine that if I pressed my ears up against them I could hear all the family stories of generations past. This house, unlike our others, was a happy one and I was sure everyone inside it before our arrival was happy too. The house loved me and cradled me like a grandparent would.
My bedroom had a window that faced east and it was all too easy to dream of laughter before the sun light reached in to curl its fingers around me every morning. My favorite thing about our house was its location. The railroad was outside my window, behind our house. I pictured the disappointment and perplexity of the families back then, as they were constructing this railroad, horrified at the noise pollution and the introduction of metal, electric and speed throughout this potato farming town. But I loved it. Absolutely loved it. Each day, at all hours, I could be reminded that I was never alone. There were always people travelling to and from, with places to go and people to see, for business, pleasure, love and adventure. And I was lulled into a deep sleep listening to the dulled roars of passing train cars, wondering what kinds of people were inside and where they were headed.
Memories of that house are a pure sensory awakening. When I close my eyes and let the visuals multiply against each other, I begin to smell our miniature maple tree, hear the cicadas’ vibrato and the deep bass of the firehouse horn bellowing humbly, calling the town’s volunteers to an emergency. It was a small town but it was vibrantly alive in its roots, with its residents and establishments like the tree rings of a redwood.
It was also here that I acquired some of my favorite lifelong hobbies. I “people-watched” for hours and hours, while walking to and from school, sitting in my front yard, sitting in my backyard or even up from above through my bedroom window. I watched everyone I could and hypothesized on their circumstances in life. I then began to recognize them throughout the town in stores, restaurants, parks etc. I took note of every part of their life if I recognized their face and I remembered them and interpreted them. An odd hobby for a pre-teen child to have but, it was filled with mystery, intrigue and suspense. I learned who people were and how they conducted their day and in this way, I formed my own perspectives on the world, as large and as brand new as the world was in the eyes of an 8 year old child.
When we left that town and our house, my childhood stayed with it. If you peek through the windows now, you may still see shadows of my brother and I romping around inside. And within my memories, it is always sunny outside and the house is always warm inside. Maybe the innocence of our spirits illuminated the property while the unbroken ties then, and constant home cooking during those years, warmed the wooden beams. There was much laughter, with occasional chaos, and perhaps just the right amount of insanity for the sane.
For years afterwards I would have recurring dreams where that old house made its appearance reliably, night after night, each time displaying a different scene of my early life locked away inside its doors. Those doors, which held years of Me, would open and my subconscious probed, toured and breathed in an old life. However, unlike my conscious memories, dreams by my subconscious were quite the polar opposite. The house appeared against darkness and the inside had a coldness that descended and settled as goose bumps on my skin. Often these recurring dreams consisted of me, at any given age, stumbling upon the doorsteps whether by intent or accident and entering only to find overwhelming emptiness and a sense of detachment even in the most intimate rooms.
The loneliness I felt in this estranged shelter within my dreams inhabited itself deep in my bones. I almost always felt betrayal first; betrayal or abandonment but, who or what was it really, that abandoned me? Betrayal by my own hands for losing those times that I loved within this house, and then abandonment by love in general. . . Since our departure from there, it was difficult to find and feel that familiar, genuine love of something, someone or some place as I hiked onward towards adulthood.
The emptiness fed my fear of being alone, of being left behind or left outside and I carried these fears through adulthood. My senses of attachment and detachment were amplified and I built barriers around me. These barriers carried me through life so that I was in constant contact with the people and the world around me but they formed a comfortable pod so no one person or place could reach the fleshy insides, and I was prepared at any given moment to abort mission, cut ties and jump ship unharmed, to start over and begin anew in my pod. My pod was my survival. It was my nest of rebirth and solace from pain, a perpetual cocoon where I was always evolving, using hardship as a catalyst for metamorphosis.
Since those times, I have lived in three states, four houses, four apartments and none have felt like home. No shelter has been filled with my emotions and any temporary comforts have been wiped clean as I prepared for my next move. But I keep the old house with me and carry it through life so I may recognize that type of comfort and familiarity should it cross my path once again. Through the years I have taken to comparing the chapters of my life to my changing addresses, and realized that what I sought in life was reflected within the shelters I sought. My fantasy circumstance would be coming across a place of residence, no matter what corner of the world I’d find it, that “felt” right rather than swaying me in appearance. Within this type of place, I could park my pod and simply expand it. I would take everything I carried within this vehicle (as I’m sure by then it would be heavy and packed to the brim with physical and emotional valuables I’ve hoarded) and begin filling and forming until the walls of my pod stretched to meet and weld against the walls. Then out from within this pod would walk the people that I loved and the life that I’ve built. The pod I travelled with, evolving myself in over the years, would finally birth the climactic chapter; and the denouement – it would be as solid and stoic as any 1930’s colonial.
- Starving in the Dark (stuckpigink.wordpress.com)
- A Writer’s Notebook: The Writer’s Toolbox, Protagonist Game (snoekbrown.wordpress.com)
- The Pain We’ll Never Know (hiwaychristian.wordpress.com)
- Wow, I Didn’t Remember We Had This….Opening Packed boxes (workthedream.wordpress.com)
- When Dreams Unfold (workthedream.wordpress.com)
- “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (upsidedownbethlehem.wordpress.com)