I awoke into my dream late in the night, just before dawn, as I had last checked the time on the clock by the bed at 4:15.
When I opened my dream eyes, I was in a place I recognized as my dad’s mother’s house. This grandmother died when I was just 8 or 9, so I did not have long to know her, and though she was not personally in my dream, this was her house, which I last saw when I was 5 or so. In reality, my parents had divorced when I was three, and when I was five, my father and mother took me to her house for a belated Christmas present.
The house was a beautiful little cottage on a green street, definitely suburban, but with winding streets through the natural hills, probably somewhere in the canyons near the Rose Bowl, though I have no particular reason to think so, other than the feel of the glimpses of her yard that my child’s mind found intriguing and unusual enough to relegate to memory.
The interior of the house was dark wood, but the home was very bright, due to many windows – old-style, with 12″ square panes held in place by delicate dark hardwood. She had many antiques, once of which was a curio cabinet filled with crystal.
When my dad and his wife moved from San Diego to Seattle to be with their other kids some fifteen years ago, he gave me my grandmother’s crystal punch bowl that he specifically wanted me to have. And later, after he died some three years ago, His wife and my half-brothers and sisters, passed on to me some of the other crystal bowls my grandmother had collected. I wonder if any of these were in the curio cabinet that I recall from memory?
Returning to the dream, it opened with me in the living room of a place I recognized as my grandmother’s home. But in the dream, rather than a fireplace, there was a pool of water in the room fed by a natural spring. It was about one foot to two feet deep. The air was moist and had the smell of a place that is perpetually damp, yet clean and mossy. As was her fireplace in reality, the pool was defined by a weathered brick wall that, in this case, held the water above the level of the hardwood floor.
Just as I was getting my surroundings, my dad came into the room and offered that once we (Teresa and myself) had finished our visit here, we could come and stay for a while with him, if we liked, Perhaps we might want to then stay with each of my half-sisters a bit, and then return to visit him again.
I so deeply love and miss my dad, and yet to my recollection, he has never previously appeared in any of my dreams since his death. Though in reality we had stayed with my dad many times over the years for two or three days at a stretch, in this instance I knew he was speaking of weeks at a time, possibly meaning that we should remain there with the family, rotating from one family to the next in cycle – perhaps perpetually.
And this pleased me, though in the dream I was not completely sure what he meant was that extensive, yet it seemed to be. I got a warm sense of belonging and of family.
Now, as it stands in reality today, I have two wonderful kids and two grandkids, all within easy driving distance, and Teresa and I have a great relationship and are friends with her ex and my ex as well. So, I’m not particularly craving family, yet if I search my soul, I’ve always felt the outsider when visiting my dad and his wife over the years, even though the whole family has always been so warm and inclusive.
It is probably just something I conjure on my side – we never spent holidays together, I was never there for the accidents and triumphs, for the private moments that a family shares. So, while I did have all that with my mom’s side of the family, on my dad’s side, I never felt quite inside, though heartily welcomed.
In my dream, no sooner had this conversation happened while I sat at the brick pool in the living room around the natural spring, but I found myself in a sitting room – a casual den on the other side of the spring wall, a sunken room with a large well-used couch.
The whole extended family of my siblings and their children were in the house for this family gathering, meandering from room to room, when there was a recognition that some sort of local vigilante group was driving up and down the street, checking each hour for contraband. Where that came from, I do not know.
The contraband they were looking for were personal papers that would indicate someone was not a good member of the community. I had such papers, perhaps five or six documents and a bible I think – a large handful of things.
Strange I should have a bible as I do not believe in a single all-powerful God, though I have in the past read the entire book from cover to cover (even Leviticus!)
Still, I had to think quickly, and as I was laying on the floor in front of the couch, I reached underneath with the documents to find that that black gauze they often use to close-off the bottoms of chairs and sofas had been slightly ripped open. So I shoved in my hand to place the document inside the under-couch. As I did, I discovered some of the kids had pug a few of their toys in there as well, so I placed the documents behind the toys to that anyone searching would find the toys first and not bother to look further.
No matter, the car with the bull horn announcing the neighborhood search moved on down the street, and they never stopped at this surreal version of my grandmother’s house.
But there was a lizard. A tan and golden lizard some 12″ long including tail. And it lived in the pool and frequented the underside of the couch. And when I removed my hand from the couch, it caught my scent and wanted to touch me, to connect with me.
And then I was in the forest. A big-tree pine forest such as they have in King’s Canyon. I believe it may have actually been King’s Canyon, as in reality my mother took me there when I was around the same age as my memory of my grandmother’s house.
She has some friends from college and the husband was a teacher during most of the year and then a summer ranger for the national park service. When my mom and I visited, staying in a tent-cabin a couple years after my mom and dad divorced, her ranger friend held a big blazing campfire talk at night, and he gave me the honor of lighting the fire with a great big match in front of all those people! Strangely, my grandmother let me light the fire during that visit from my memory to her place, so perhaps that is the tie-in?
But in the dream, there I was at King’s Canyon, only this time the lizard was after me. I would run down trails and around out buildings, and through creeks, but I could not shake it. And I somehow felt that though the lizard meant me no harm, if he touched me, even slightly, the neighborhood vigilantes would find my documents and the pleasant prospects of rotating extended visits with the family, beginning with my dad, would evaporate forever.
And then I woke up to two sick kitties with complete different problems, eager clients who wish me to analyze and help them improve their stories, and lagging sales due to the time of year – Memorial Day Holiday, Graduations, and early family vacations.
Just another glorious morning in paradise! That’s life.