23 December 2010

Winter dreams

I dreamt last night of my grandparents' house, but I never dream of my own.

My mother and an imagined neighbour stood arguing over a boundary line in the dirt where now ten feet of hedgerow grows. I stood between them, acting as mediator, holding back their hands as both drew rival lines of demarcation in the soil with outstretched index fingers. The afternoon sun shone with a light only present in remembered childhood summers.

That I dream of my grandparents' house is no surprise. For almost eight years from my eleventh birthday I called it home, the longest period still that I have ever spent in a single house. These were also the most formative years, my personality being molded into shape by environment, both in tandem with and opposition to the life that revolved around this house.

That I dreamt of my grandparents' house last night is also no surprise. It sits atop a hill, one of a row of jagged mismatched teeth that grin out across the water, from a great distance still identifiable by the missing incisors to its left and right. In summer the breeze that rises in and up from the cliffs and across the farmland carries with it the cries of nesting gulls entwined with disgruntled bellows of cattle shuffled slowly from one field to the next. In winter the wind breathes frozen anger straight down from the arctic, rattling the windows with demanding hands hungry to wrap themselves around all who hide inside. Though my grandparents are never alone, my mother living with them and my uncle on the same road, this winter has been like no other, the cold usurped by snow and ice with roads that quickly become impassable without all-wheel drive, and yesterday early in the afternoon I found myself setting off on foot up their hill with a bag full of items that on any ordinary day would barely rate as trivialities, but are suddenly elevated to the rank of necessity when faced with the prospect of their prolonged absence.

In the house life goes on as normal, the larder is well stocked, the oil tank full, the weather no impediment to the tv signal. The radio plays to an empty kitchen measured by the five-clock metronome tick-tick-ticking across the walls, each second hand moving slightly out of time with the rest, tick-tick-tick-tick-tooock, tick-tick-tick-tick-tooock. My grandfather's voice raised in the other room narrating in near-real-time events he just saw on the television to my half-deaf grandmother, lost in her world of books and crosswords, thunder and lightning, lightning and thunder, the flash of light from the TV image scattered across the wall followed moments later by my grandfather's voice. I count the seconds in the delay to see how far he is sitting from the screen. My mother is elsewhere, forever trying to carve out her own space in the detritus left by fifty years of memories.

That I dream of my grandparents' house is no surprise. It is in my blood, it is my blood. I close my eyes today and can smell and taste jumbled up visions of ten years, fifteen years, two years past, all overlaid as exact as a calculated dreamscape, a Tex Avery country where the background remains immobile while the characters in the foreground repeat the same cyclic action over, and over again.



That I dream of my grandparents' house is no surprise. The question of interest is why I never dream of my own.



At 10:57 am, Blogger Kate said...

5 years in current house, 13 away and dreams are always Camelot dreams. beautiful piece. perhaps there we dreamed and here we live?


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