Last night, I dreamed about our former house for the first time since we moved from it almost 2-1/2 years ago. I frequently dream about the house we lived in for 8 years before that one, an amazing board-and-batten post-and-beam on 10 acres in the country, with lots of built-ins and a lovely wood smell that I always noticed when we came home from being away for a while.
But I didn’t really like this Victorian that we lived in for 7 years. I like crisp, clean architectural lines, and open spaces, and this house wasn’t like that. It had redeeming qualities, though: its spacious renovated bathrooms, a bounteous well-planted garden with mature trees, the wide front porch, front and back staircases, a sumptuous dining room, and a very large deck.
But the best thing about this house, for me, was the town it’s in. And that’s really what my dream was about. It took place now, and we were buying this house back from the people who bought it from us. But I don’t recall being inside the house in the dream, just in the driveway and on the front porch, where I could interact with friends, neighbours and acquaintances who were walking or driving by. I felt happy to be back, to walk those same sidewalks, hang out at the local coffee shop, and be surrounded by friends and people who know me, something I don’t experience much in our new town.
The night before this, I dreamed about North Korea and I woke up in the middle of the night puzzling over why or how the North Korean people don’t know what’s going on in the rest of the world. How can they really believe the lie that other leaders fear and admire their leader and envy the fortunes of North Korea? I know the propaganda is strong and the boundaries almost impermeable, but there much be some people who get in or out, physically or virtually, maybe through ham radios or rigged-up TVs … It kept me awake for a while, thinking about this. About starvation and prison camps, and the power of propaganda. Someone thinks that they know the truth about the world when they know so very little. And maybe that’s my situation, too. Not necessarily because the government is lying (though no doubt it is, at times) but because, like any North Korean (I would imagine), I’m conditioned and biased and I believe most easily that which I want to believe. It takes effort to believe something else, even when confronted with evidence.
I think dreaming about revisiting houses must be a metaphor for something. Maybe the house represents a remembered self, from one time and place; and in dreams, we re-examine life through those successive selves, with the eyes of today. It feels like a gift, to observe the former self without much attachment, and at the same time to re-feel and re-member the smell of that wood, the texture of that countertop, the way I felt in that house … I don’t know, though, whether these dreams reinforce my biases and my life narrative, or whether they present evidence that my conscious mind has forgotten or ignored, which might challenge my biases and give me new eyes.