Have you ever dreamed repeatedly about a house you have never lived in? I have. Usually it’s this elegant castle of a home where I keep discovering new rooms and there’s a secret door that leads down a flight of stairs to a plush sitting room I only show to special people. I have been there many times and wish I could stay.
But last night, it was a different house. Rustic. Splintered wood in need of sanding and paint. Some very old furniture that remained from a past owner. Fred and I were claiming it now. I don’t know if we had bought it or were about to.
Another woman might be obsessed with the kitchen or the bedrooms, but all I cared about was office space. Where will I write?
I had choices. First I claimed a small room off the living room. It had an ancient leather swivel chair and a vast wooden desk. I sat and spun. Oh, I could write here, I thought. But there was more to the house. We came to a huge office space in a refurbished garage. The windows were boarded up, but when we took off the covers, light poured in. This room had an enormous desk and rows and rows of shelves and plastic bins where I could store my books and my research. The garage door was still there, and I could open it on warm days.
I realized my husband, who had a tax preparation business, might want to choose one of these offices. I should not be selfish. When I’m writing, it doesn’t matter where I am. But as always, he was so generous he gave me my choice. I wanted the big one.
The living room was a shadowy blur. I never saw the kitchen or bedrooms or even a bathroom. Every inch of this house needed work, but oh, I wanted that office. Not only would I write, but people would come for salons and readings. I could taste the wine and the cheese and crackers.
In real life, I have a perfectly good office in a bedroom in my house in South Beach. It is crammed with my books and papers and the various tools I need for my work. Copies of my own books are stacked in Fred’s old office, along with mailing supplies. But the truth is I work all over the property, including the kitchen, living room, and back yard. Sometimes I write a word or two in the laundry room or the bathroom because the words don’t stop at the doorway where the dog lies waiting for attention. It’s odd that I don’t dream about my actual office. But I love those offices in my dreams. What does it mean?
Do you dream about houses? Are they places you have lived or places you have never seen? What rooms stand out for you? Where do you think this comes from?
For something totally quirky and fun, look at these artificial “shadows” created by an artist in Redwood City, California. Some of us used it as a poetry prompt this weekend, but all you need to do is enjoy them.
7 thoughts on “Wandering Through the Rooms in my Dreams”
Yes! Often! From my “Lost and Found” collection, a house that recurs in my dreams. IN DREAMS
Eventually the day of judgment will dawn,
when you realize that all life is a dream.
Today I slept ‘til ten,
making an eleven-hour night.
My friends say they have trouble
falling asleep, staying asleep,
catching enough sleep to get by.
By day their eyes squint, glint
like shells hidden in ridges
of sand. They move slow
as stop-time and for them
the thrill is gone. They die to sleep.
Reality’s too real.
My dream-life charges on.
Last night I wandered the halls
of a college again
trying to find my office
and knowing I was late for class.
One trip to the loo
and, episode two,
back at the dorm
I wake to remember
there’s a final in a class
I always forgot to attend
and still can’t find the room.
It’s the American Civil War.
I’ve been entrusted with letters
from home, mail for soldiers.
I wander the fields
with my pack and names on a list—but all I can see, a macabre crop of the slain.
I own an antique shop.
It’s at the far end
of my enormous house,
room and room and room—
I seek to find its end—
finally down into cellars and tunnels
all filled with fine relics,
artifacts of domestic life, wardrobes
and china cabinets, chairs
and trestle tables,
the occasional coffee stand.
At the end a small door
opens, my shop door,
onto the street
and the soaring cathedral spire.
I dream this again and again.
The light out there makes me squint.
My man is still in bed—dreaming on.
Sandra, I love this poem. Thank you for sharing it. I dream those academic dreams where I’m supposed to be in class and I’m not there or not prepared. I also have church choir dreams where I’m not at the piano or can’t find my music when Mass is about to start. Dreams are so interesting.
By the way, a book that is both helpful and provocative in understanding the literary and dream use of spaces is the phenomenological study by Gaston Bachelard called “The Poetics of Space.” What is the metaphorical impact of cellars, of attics, of enclosed and cozy spaces–and how to they relate to the mind and the self? Important to know as both a reader and a writer.
Ooh, that sounds interesting. Looking it up right now. Thanks.
Wow! What detailed dreams, Sue! I hope they keep you comfortably asleep:-)
I wonder what it means that I never remember dreaming…oh, I know that everyone supposedly does dream but neither my twin nor I do. Regarding your thoughts about the space you would have chosen for your office, I think that I would have chosen the inside, cozier sounding one and given Fred the converted garage one which would have given (probably) an entrance where the clients didn’t come through your house…I did like the idea of using the larger space for gatherings though which I think that you could still have done.