The most vicious version of the dream doesn't vary. I'm living in a one story house, and this particular house has elements of every house I lived in before my divorce. At some point I'm walking through the house and it occurs to me that there is an entire wing or section of this place that I've forgotten about. It can be a basement, or an upstairs bedroom (meaning I've forgotten not only the room but an entire level of the house). I scramble around to this lost and forgotten place, and it is in desperate need of my care.
Why is there a hole in that wall?
Who left all of this junk in here? I find paint, or wallpaper, or garbage bags. I consider trying to fix it. I wonder if anyone else can see this part of the house.
Then suddenly, there is a For Sale sign in the yard. Other people are trying to buy my house. I want to tell them it's not for sale, but suddenly I'm across town and I have no voice. I can only drive past my abandoned house. I see other people walking through it. Where are all of the things that belong to me?
I just woke up from a deep sleep. In today's version there are dogs in the yard and I am calling them inside. The telephone rings and it's my sister. I realize she wants to tell me about her children in another state and I can't figure out why we aren't both where we owned homes and where we grew up. "The children," I say. "They are supposed to be at the same school. They are supposed to be together. What happened? Why did we do this?"
And then I remember no matter how hard we try, things get crushed, and sold, and forgotten.
I think about the dream. And realize that though I've left houses with the man who is now my husband, I never have nightmares about them. He is my home, and he is here.
Elizabeth Gaucher is a degree candidate for the MFA from West Virginia Wesleyan College. She lives with her family in Middlebury, Vermont. www.elizabethgaucher.com.