Perhaps it was the late night viewing of the 1998 film “What Dreams May Come” that put my mind in the motion of turning back time. After the last of the end credits rolled, I fell asleep fast, landing head first into a dream that lead me back to my childhood house. It’s been a recurring theme my entire life since we moved out if our little Cape Cod Colonial grey aluminum sided home in Ardsley, New York. My sleeping ghost has wandered the memory of this home in recurring dreams. This is the home I was brought back to after my birth. This is the house I grew up in, gazing out the window toward the Sprain Brook Parkway, getting up early for school to watch the sun come up over the line of trees on the hill in the distance from our backyard. This is were my budding feelings of life grew. This is where moments of pain and happiness were first felt.
Although I have an older half brother, I was raised as an only child. Our house was a four bedroom home, and with the exception of my parent’s master, I lived in each room throughout my childhood. The first one was my nursery, next door to my parents’ bedroom. Outside my window was a Japanese Cherry Tree that would blossom beautiful pink florals in the spring. It would fill the room up with glowing pink. It became known as my tree.
Then, as I grew to older childhood, I moved upstairs to the room used as a guest room. I fell in love with the Beatles there, who had long since broken up by the time I slapped eyes on George Harrison’s cheek bones in the photo from the inner sleeve of the blue Beatles Greatest Hits 1967 – 1970 album. The room had air space inside the walls used for storage, with little doors in the wall would lead you in there. I used to pretend that Narnia existed in the dim air space. You could climb inside, smelling the dust of the wood, feeling your way in the dark and dirty floor until you made your way to the other end of the wall where the other door lead you out – near the window.
I dream of that room often. I envisioned it the other night during sleep, when I floated about the old place with a phantom current owner who showed how they built out the walls to make the room bigger, giving it a modern boxy feel with clean lines and ceiling to floor windows, eliminating the old wood of this 1947 house. The light airy glass revealed a view I had never seen before. But in the prism surreal dream land, the vista resembled a Los Angeles mountain – the vision I often seen here in Southern California – with a rocky high altitude mountain range you don’t see in New York – and certainly don’t see from any part of my old house in reality.
The third bedroom used to belong to that older half brother before he high tailed his way out of Ardsley with a ticket to college and immediate marriage after graduation. I moved in while in high school, another fully formed teenager with mood swings and self righteous indignation. Yet, his presence was felt in the storage behind the wall that contained his old muscle ointment, his athletic cup, and a few packets of old, expired condoms. Moving into his old space meant that he handed down to me his old varsity letters in football, baseball and wrestling, that were still pinned to the wall. I inherited his weird wall paper patterned with the United States Presidential seal, the smell of his left his over male teenage musk, and a hole in the wall, strategically place by his hurling fist during a moment of anger.
Last night, with the memory of “What Dreams May Come” swimming in my mind, I dreamt of this room. Once again, I floated about it with a woman who apparently owned the place. The entire house was re-constructed. The bedrooms were no longer where they used to be. The little kitchen in the middle of the house, was opened up to make a giant staircase that stood in the middle of a vast living area. Going upstairs to the level that used to be the bedrooms I inhabited at some point in my life, revealed an entirely different layout. It was discombobulating. My head felt light, my stomach in knots. The entire top floor was punched out to make a big gymnastic-like space. I noticed people coming in an out of this giant room that turned out to be a recording studio. Trumpets and French horns were sitting in their stands. Guitars were on the floor. Amps were buzzing with life. The grey pot marked foamy isolation material used to muffle extraneous noises was on the walls. My old teenage bedrooms were converted into a recording studio at Abbey Road. There was a sky light. A baby grand piano, the little Steinway we used to own that took up the entire living room, was in the corner – looking small and beautiful.
There’s nothing to glean from such a dream. There is always a sad feeling in the pit of my stomach that this place, so integral to my rearing and memory, is in my past. I’ve always said that when I die, I’ll likely haunt this place.