This is my entry this week for therealljidol. I invite you to read and vote for the many fine entries. This week we have a partner, and we each need to write on a different topic. I chose the topic "cesspool."
My partner, the inimitable drjeff, wrote his piece on the topic "closer." You can read these pieces in any order.
For hours, I had wandered circuitous hallways that never looked the same way twice. Every time I found a bathroom, it was in deplorable condition: filthy, with water-clogged floors. Some bathrooms had no toilets but only a hole in the floor, or even an upholstered chair. I would have to wait.
I navigate neglected, narrow passageways. Always, they look familiar. Always, they are a form of home: whether a current or former apartment, the nostalgic hallways of high school or college, or my first childhood home (an 1880s office building on the Susquehanna which houses my father's medical practice and where he's lived since my parents' divorce).
In some way, these homes are all troubled. The apartments lack privacy, always with a door shared by freewheeling neighbors (a callback to my days in the Hippie House in State College where I met my first husband). The school hallways are circuitous, confusing. I am always lost, entering mystic elevators that float sideways or shunt suddenly to secret floors. In these dreams, home is always haunted, containing an extra floor, a super attic of perfect rooms kept empty for the ghosts who inhabit them.
In earlier days, the ghosts would pound and shout. I once woke from a family vacation in terror because the ghosts had been chanting that they were real. Twenty years ago, I walked through those rooms. They are filled with treasures but terrifying (or filled with terrifying treasures?). I have not returned.
The last time I tried, the passage narrowed. I feared I would suffocate; fought my way back out. Memory, perhaps, of my birth trauma, those minutes when my lungs filled with amniotic fluid? Or perhaps it is simply the entryway to a shamanic experience, and I am a failed and weak dream shaman, running away from enlightenment.
I read in a guide to dream symbology that the house represents the mind. What, then, does this say? That I have secret rooms I fear to explore? I am haunted, perhaps, by memories both beautiful and terrible?
My ghostly paternal grandmother, dead 20 years, inhabits one of these spectral rooms. I visit her infrequently. It is filled with china and antiques. She passes through to see how I am doing, to serve me tea which I don't drink. These other ghosts are no one I know, unless, of course, they are parts of me.
Then there are the other houses: the ones where I never lived, rotting quietly in woods with overgrown roads. Falling apart flagrantly in the middle of town, with barely-concealed corpses oozing out of the front lawns. Are they dream versions of the abandoned house my friends and I explored as children? Filled with the artifacts of an abandoned life? The house my mother cautioned we should never go, because we could fall through the floorboards?
My mother also told me, when she caught me reading "The Shining," that she didn't read books like that. Once you read something, she said, it became a part of you. So perhaps these troubled houses all represent collective fears I have absorbed over years of reading Edgar Allan Poe or H.P. Lovecraft or even William Blake.
It is also possible, I suppose, that I am hiding from a darker truth. I never used to believe in repression, but recently a friend recounted, in vivid detail, a time when she and I stole alcohol and got blitzed. We got in terrible trouble, she related. But no matter how much detail she evoked, I could not see it; had no memory of it. I cannot know what other secrets my mind may have locked away.
It should be easy to take a smudge stick and push through the passages that block this knowing; cast out the ghosts; declare my houses whole. On that day, I will come face to face, at last, with whatever terrible beauty awaits.
ETA: I had an interesting dream after posting this where I begin to resolve some of these recurrent issues. I've described the dream in a post, so if you're interested, check it out. It's not an official part of this entry, however.