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LJ Idol Season 8 - Week 25: Dream Houses

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.

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 30th, 2012 11:08 am (UTC)
Well done. Nice intersection
Apr. 30th, 2012 12:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I had an interesting dream last night, which I think was based both on having written this piece and having seen "The Cabin in the Woods." In it, I confront some vampiric ghosts who are actually young women. I encounter them in a New England-style hotel, which contains a "nursery" for my son in a turret that, despite having numerous stuffed animals on the shelves, skeeves me out so much I decide not to put him there.

After having an actual fight with these beings, including pushing one of the down the stairs and kicking one to prevent it from biting me, there is a telephone call from God. He gives them a stern talking to and reminds them they are not to harm me.

There are a few more details, but those are the essential ones. When I get a chance today, I'll write it up on my blog and add a link to the entry for anyone who's interested.
May. 1st, 2012 01:20 am (UTC)
I've posted the entire follow-up dream here, if you're interested: http://alycewilson.livejournal.com/452684.html
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May. 1st, 2012 12:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! I think our styles worked well together, and I was happy to finally get the chance to work with him.
May. 1st, 2012 01:34 am (UTC)
Really great way of describing dreams. I have the strangest dreams sometimes- mixtures of things which were real and things which my brain seems to have invented on its own.
May. 1st, 2012 01:39 am (UTC)
That's why I find them so fascinating: I learn so much about myself by extricating the possible meanings.
May. 1st, 2012 03:33 am (UTC)
In a way, I wrote about a dream this week too. My post was inspired by a nightmare I had one night... I love extracting the meanings of dreams too. Even if that dream is about evil clown dolls... Very neat entry!
May. 2nd, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
I look forward to reading it. Thanks!
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May. 2nd, 2012 08:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.
May. 1st, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
Such vivid images, and a neat way to intersect!
May. 2nd, 2012 08:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you liked it.
May. 1st, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC)
I have had dreams about those elevators that move sideways or around the outside of a building. Your story is fascinating!
May. 2nd, 2012 08:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Those elevators are always a bad idea. :)
May. 2nd, 2012 12:22 am (UTC)
I don't have much in the way of ghost dreams (though I loved your grandmother inhabiting one of those rooms, always ready to serve you tea that you don't drink). But I have endless house dreams--one this past Sunday night. They aren't necessarily my house, but there are so many undiscovered rooms in them. No bodies oozing out the doors or rising from the lawns, but still.

Or perhaps it is simply the entryway to a shamanic experience, and I am a failed and weak dream shaman, running away from enlightenment.
:) Aren't we all! The repetition of the type of dream makes it seem as if our minds are trying to tell us something, but we often fail to understand. If only the mind weren't so cryptic in its messages!
May. 2nd, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
I definitely think the mind is trying to tell us something, or more likely, trying to work things out. Thanks for the feedback. I like it when I can make people think about things.
May. 2nd, 2012 02:19 am (UTC)
Fascinating subject. Loved the way you described and interpreted the dream, great pair of stories.

I also have a "lost" dream; I am in a house, hotels, places I have been; I endlessly wander corridors, find doors that are barred, go up stairs that lead no where. Its so frustrating, perhaps that it, just life? I ask people and they can never help me... my cryptic message is trying to get through.
May. 2nd, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Hmm. Maybe it's time to try to open those doors?
May. 2nd, 2012 07:53 am (UTC)
*hugs* I wish you all the best with finding your meanings. :)
May. 2nd, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much. It's a process.
May. 3rd, 2012 02:27 am (UTC)
You're welcome. Most good journeys are, IMO.
May. 3rd, 2012 12:58 am (UTC)
I wrote a long comment and LJ ate it. Man. I need to remember to always copy before I post.

Do you remember your dreams every night?

Now and then I dream that I discover new doors in my home that lead to new rooms and floors I have never seen before. I wake up wishing it were true (our home is small.)

I sometimes wonder..maybe repression of memories is healthy? My older brother and one of my sisters cannot remember most of their childhood. My sister-in-law asked me about our childhood because my brother can't remember.

I just wonder if maybe it is healthier to be able to forget. My brother and that sister are smarter than me, did better in college and have great jobs. Maybe I spend too much brain power remembering.

Do your dreams make it difficult to feel rested? I hope you can get some refreshing sleep! ::hugs::
May. 3rd, 2012 12:18 pm (UTC)
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.

I really love and am fascinated by that idea! I've been sitting here for the past fifteen minutes mulling it over. So true... even if a thing is only fiction, you can't "unread" it. You'll probably always remember at least a small thing from it and you never know when that is going to pop up.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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