Dreaming the Past
For much of my adult life, two places crop up on a regular basis as the location for whatever dream happens to need a country setting. Both of these locations belonged to my grandparents. These two houses, with their small farms attached, figure prominently in my transition dreams.
Let me explain.
When my current life puts me in a state of transition, whether related to work or home or state of residency, my dreams take me back to one of my grandparent’s homes from my childhood. The emotional depth of the transition seems to determine the intensity of the dream and the larger the crowd of family members within the dream. Sounds spooky, doesn’t it?
For instance, if I’ve lost a female friend, through whatever agency, I will dream of being at my father’s parents’ home. I take a good look around the yard; remember the games played with my cousins during visits there. Red Rover and Red Light/Green Light still echo around the front yard of those dreams.
I sit with one girl cousin or another and laugh, joke, and share secrets for however long I stay within the dream. I wake with a smile on my face. I’d been able to recapture that tenuous relationship for a short while and enjoy it. I can tuck it back into my mental file box for later retrieval, as I will be able to do with the current lost friendship of a female friend. My transition is made.
Conversely, if I’m feeling lost–perhaps due to a major shift in my living situation– I return to my mother’s parents’ house and grounds. The scene is always built on the same framework, but the details move and shift, even as I watch within the dream. The moonflower vine covers the front porch instead of the back kitchen wall, or the gold fish pond under the weeping willow has koi in it instead of the small orange darting variety once used.
I can wander the orchard, smelling the winter storage apples that are not-quite ripe but close. I can traipse down to the barnyard where the transparent apples are dropping from their branches. Climbing for choice golden orbs results in a skinned knee from bracing against the trunk and from higher branches I can see the entire farmyard.
A couple of sheep graze to the right, chickens cluck and peck at seeds outside the small holding pen at the barn’s edge. Sunlight baths everything in that early autumn glow that hastens the turning of leaves and cooler temperatures.
Here, in this place, I am safe and sheltered. I carry it with me wherever I go. I never have to leave this warmly remembered haven.
When I wake from such a dream, regret flows with the tears of separation from those days of perceived iconic childhood memories. I recognize that much of it wasn’t real, that shifting images were brought about by changes in life. It is this recognition that allows me to transition easier to a new living arrangement.
I think we all have places within our family memories that help us deal with things that are going on in our lives today. Places of safety, people of soothing influence, and images that allow for reconciliation between the known and the unknown that helps us move from one stage of our lives to the next.
Whether we see our family members often or only every few years, they never leave our sides. They travel with us everywhere. And in doing so, those are our major influences in our lives.
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