February 18th, 1998. 9:20 AM Baltimore.
This morning my alarm went off at 7:30. I had to be at work at 9. As I turned it off, I turned on my desk light and my CD player, which just happened to have Soundgarden in it. I laid back down with the intention of waking up slowly, and, of course, fell right back to sleep. All of this I did half asleep anyway, so being pulled back to my interrupted dreams was no great surprise.
Where I went once I was back in my dream was.
Suddenly I was going down Valley Forge Road, toward Main Street from the High School in my hometown of Lansdale. Or, at least, for some reason I knew it was that place, but it failed to resemble the place entirely. I don’t know if I was driving or walking or what, but that didn’t matter, because what I was seeing filled every ounce of my soul.
The most beautiful homes I had ever seen, half hidden tantalizingly behind untended evergreens and shrubs. All Victorian and Turn-of-the-Century, dripping with ornament from head to toe. Blanketed by a light, summer morning mist.
Although they were completely empty of people, these were not just houses, these were homes. Places that had been loved and loved in return. Each with its own stories to tell. Each a unique kingdom inviting me in to explore it’s mysteries and taste its wonders. But I didn’t enter yet.
I traveled down streets lined with homes, each more beautiful than the last, and each failing to compare with the majesty of the others. All were different, having their own character, their own style, their own magnificence. Each door a gateway to another world, another time. Each window speaking in a silent symphony of memories. I have always thought that houses had souls, more so than most humans. They love and forgive unconditionally. They remember and they know. If there is a God, His name is Home.
As I looked around, enthralled and overcome by the endless beauty, I looked up to see that the town had a roof. A ceiling, four stories up, was supported by the taller and stockier homes. At regular intervals there were skylights, 20 foot square. The ceiling was painted white, but next to the brilliant areas of light it looked a pale grayish sky blue.
As is usually the case in my dreams, there was not a single person to be found, anywhere, and there wouldn’t be until my sub-conscience allowed it. But, regardless, I knew someone had built the roof to protect the homes from weather and time. I thanked them from the depth of my heart. I thanked them for giving me this place; for letting me enter what truly is the most sacred spot of my soul. I drank the beauty. The light mist continued, and would never leave. There was a slight heat, as on a hazy summer morning soon to become hot. But the heat never became uncomfortable, and never would.
The houses sat on beds of grass and fern, but I seldom looked down. I saw a huge home, all sharp angles and steep roofs, covered with windows, each with a triangular roof of its own. It was entirely painted a wet black, and above its fourth floor it was connected directly to the ceiling. Somehow I knew it did not continue beyond.
One thing I did know, while standing there in awe, was that none of these homes existed presently, in the waking world. Maybe they had existed once, or perhaps the whole thing was the construct of some discarded Victorian dream that I had the good fortune of happening upon. I don’t know and I didn’t care.
Perhaps because I could not decide which home to enter, I was suddenly in one. Which one I do not know, but I was inside.
Warm in color and feel, friendly and inviting like the home of a loved one or a good friend. Grand. Not grand in the rich snob manner. That grand is shallow and infinitely more fragile than it looks. This was a true grandeur, made up of wisdom and character and love. The house was empty now, but the memories of the full bookshelves and fascinating trinkets, paintings framed by golden fire and furniture built for comfort and grace were more tangible than the bare walls and peeling paint could hope to be. I gave myself to the memory, and it was real. All the feel of life returned along with all the details of living. A half-full ashtray on a pile of magazines hiding an end table between two worn couches. The soft glow of warm light seen through Tiffany shades. Lace filtered sunlight forming dusty beams that crossed the rooms. The smell of pipe smoke and light perfume.
The sound of friend’s voices in joyful conversation drifted from one of the rooms deeper in the house. I went there and was greeted by hugs and playful inquiries into where I had been. People I had never met were old friends, happy to see me. I lost myself in the moment and never wanted to be found. This was where I belonged. Home. After many playful conversations, and more exploring of a house that seemed a labyrinth filled with wonder and joy, I came to the back of the house. A crowd of friends, some old, some new, all familiar, were making merry. Above all the talk and confusion I felt the house thank me for letting it relive some of its lost joy. I thanked it in return, and was pulled away from the crowd by a beautiful woman who had a question I never got to hear. As she pulled me away I was looking for a place to put out my cigarette and not finding one. Foolishly, I tried to flick it over the crowd and ended up hitting someone’s wristwatch, which came apart and fell to the ground.
I guess I should be thankful for the embarrassment. It woke me up with enough time to make a cup of coffee, throw on some cloths, smoke a cigarette and make it to work only ten minutes late.
The second I got to work (the pathetically easy job of monitor in a computer lab where the computers were originally assembled by Brontosauruses) I started writing this all down for fear the dream would soon become naught but half felt glimpses, as most dreams do, if not disappear from memory altogether.
I guess I should fall asleep listening to Soundgarden more often.