What Dreams May Come…

I go back for a visit once or twice a year. It is always quite the same, but that is certainly not the purpose of a visit; to see how it’s changed. The purpose is to be reassured that it hasn’t.

It’s a very large, creaky old Victorian-era mansion that was long ago split up for apartments. I lived here the first time with a girlfriend, and the second time with a chocolate Labrador retriever. Sadly, I was apparently incapable of a sustained relationship with either.

I love this place. A huge and sprawling front yard that always seemed as if it should have a circular cobblestone driveway, but actually has a not-quite-straight walkway going up the center. Charming in a slightly Hobbit-esque fashion. There are elaborate wooden staircases on all sides, each to accommodate a different tenant; ours was on the right, and went to the top ( third) floor. Just the right half of the third floor, mind you.  Six rooms in a Victorian just-a-bit-too-small scale, with a wall taken out to create a less claustrophobic setting.

On the left of the massive house is a grove of trees beside a creek with some Adirondack chairs and a picnic table. The creek winds directly behind the house, where two old wooden rowboats are moored; they are for the use of the tenants. The creek leads on to a large freshwater pond.

I have always wondered at what it must have been like here for the original owners, possibly  the builders of this place. To create such a pastoral setting for themselves, and then have the rigors of life slowly remove it all from their grasp. But to their eternal credit, the place has a heart and soul entirely of its own. The sunlight, especially; it radiates throughout the structure with a vibrancy that defies reality.

I lived here a second time with the Labrador. In retrospect, that was a mistake. I had given in to the indulgence at seeing the ‘ for rent’ sign, and was surprised to be shown the very same apartment. I agreed through a sense of morbidity that I have never been able to define clearly. It was a year of placing my meager furniture in corners where things of ours once were, only to have to rearrange it endlessly; here was where the pink flowered lamp stood, here was the corner where the old guitar stood; as if a museum had had a wing vacated, only to be replaced with matchsticks and Wal-mart pre-fab.

It was a time of communing freely with ghosts. They are sometimes compassionate, but are more often driven to distraction by their own miseries. I suppose they thought much the same of me.

I will find myself standing at the end of the walkway, with my chocolate Lab at my right hand. He waits for my release so that he can race around the back of the house and leap into a rowboat, anticipating a trip out onto the pond. I will go up the side stairs again, where I know that the door will be open and the apartment empty. I will poignantly revisit each corner, check the wallpaper for signs of peeling, comment on the cleanliness of the last paint job. I will converse with the ghosts who must always choose  to remind me why I’ m there. I do not need to be welcomed; their reception is one of complete resignation.  I am, after all, one of them.


That wonderful old Victorian mansion, to my knowledge, does not exist. I have never lived there:  not once, let alone twice. I have never owned a Labrador retriever. And although the relationship was real, it never took place in that house.

I sometimes visit the house with a greatly poignant sense of loss, but just as often not. Sometimes the visits are very pleasant and pastoral in nature.

I have rowed with the Lab out onto the pond, and back again. I have lounged in the chairs by the creek and felt the spectacularly radiant sun sifting through the maple leaves. I have conversed with other tenants about how the old place is holding up, but can never recall who the tenants are. And have spent much time communing with the ghosts.

The one single element of these dream visits that is so very difficult to convey is the dramatically heightened sense of clarity that they take place in. If the dream is in high definition, then real life is an ambertype photograph by comparison.

I know every inch of that house and its grounds; the creek and pond, the dog eternally waiting in the rowboat. It all occurs on a plane  that is so sublimely enhanced, that I am utterly convinced of its existence. It is simply much more real there than it is here. I often wonder what my reaction would be if I ever came across the house in real life.

If it does really lie in some other plane, then its existence, for now, becomes an article of faith. I can be patient; I’m sure I’ll arrive there somehow. In the meantime, I’ll stop in every now and then, just to see how the old place is holding up.


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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Made me want to see the place…

  2. “If the dream is in high definition, then real life is an ambertype photograph by comparison.”

    l love this line. It is a clarklike concept written as only a roger can (write it). I drank my first (of only 2) cup of coffee this morning reading this post. It was lovely. And poignant. You could not have chosen a better canine to accompany you. Dreams often provide a clarity to life, both present and past. It is always about faith. Always believe…

  3. Thanks, you guys. Next time I’m there I’ll make sure there are enough Adirondacks by the creek for everyone. And you are right. It’s always about faith. Starkly, disarmingly, unnervingly simple.

  4. Nice. I can actually visualize the house and its’ surroundings. Makes me want to take out one of the rowboats on a sunny autumn day and think about memories of long lost times. Good memories. Splendid.

    • Madame, your Adirondack is ready…and take the red boat, on the right. Doesn’t leak as much.

  5. Actually, I am not looking for a boat rather I look for one of those Adirondacks. (Do they make them in a rocking chair style?) Need to sit a spell… Fall has always been my favorite season and I would like to enjoy it’s full splendor – color, smell, feel, timbre – by visiting this place. Oh, and please leave a blanket as I plan on staying a little past sunset…

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