Some of the more memorable times of my life have been when I’m in a situation where each turn of the road or path leads me to something fun, unusual or breathtaking. It was that way my first time searching out tide pools on an island off the west coast of Scotland. I didn’t want to leave the island, knowing that behind the next rock was an even more wondrous tide pool. It was that way driving in Montana to Paul and Kelly’s wedding. Each turn of the road brought us to even more beautiful scenery. It was even that way last summer when we visited The House on the Rock in Wisconsin. Each room was full of more unusual items than the last. We had to see all of it, even if we were getting tired after several hours of walking.
So it’s no wonder that my favorite kinds of nighttime dreams are when I’m finding new and exciting things around every corner. This type of dream is usually associated with the purchase of a new house. I’m usually told that we need to move away from our house after we’ve already sold it and bought the new one. I’m always sad about leaving our house, but as soon as I begin to explore the new house I realize it is full of places to explore — so much so I may never stop finding new discoveries.
This morning when Dean got out of bed I was having one of those dreams. As I slowly awoke I realized it was not real and we had not sold our house. I was disappointed because the house in my dream was at least four stories high (plus the basement) and I’d only explored the basement and the two bottom floors. So, instead of getting up with Dean I fell back asleep hoping to get back to the dream about the house. It worked! I got to see the third floor of the house before finally waking up for good.
In the dream, Dean came home from work and said he’d placed a bid on a house and we had to move. I remember thinking, Who will do the HTCA website and manage the email list? Then I realized I could email someone and they’d just take it over. Then we packed our bags and drove the few blocks to our new home. The house was in Bethesda — and known for being the most unusual house in the area. It was probably over 100 years old, possibly more. It was once a farmhouse or maybe and old inn. From the outside you’d never imagine it was so big on the inside. It was on a triangular piece of land with the front of the house facing the pointy end of the triangle. There were some old, gnarled cedar trees in the front yard.
The house seemed, from the outside, to be a cross between a Victorian and an Georgian. It was rectangular with a high pointed roof and a porch running along the entire front of the house. Narrow pillars held up the angled porch roof. There was a triangle of wood at the top of the pillars that met the roof with maybe a half dozen cut-out heart shapes. There was “gingerbread ” on the side of the pillars. The house was painted a dark maroon color. The windows on the top floor were all blocked from the inside with what looked like white pillows.
We walked into the house as if we owned it — and even brought some suitcases. We’d only placed a bid on it, so the suitcases confused me. I was still in denial that we’d sold our other house. Dean wanted me to take a tour of the house, so we began in the basement. At first it looked like it was unfinished and I said as much to Dean, but as we descended the stairs I realized it was finished — but not in a cozy family room kind of way. It was more like a dining hall in a church or a storehouse for furniture. And the furniture was everywhere — wooden chairs hung from the too-high-for-a-basement ceiling. Tables of all sizes and shapes covered the floors in rows. We realized that the current owners were second-hand furniture salespersons and this was their showroom.
The huge basement also held a full (and functioning) bar complete with bartender and seven beer pumps. I remember noting that we’d have to change the labels on some of the beers because they were brands I didn’t like. There were also cozy chairs and small tables set up in this area of the basement. I remarked to Dean that we’d probably keep the bar and use it when we had parties.
Going back upstairs we entered a huge dark room that we took to be the living room. The decor was Victorian brothel and I silently noted that we needed a substantial budget to redecorate this room.
We were anxious to see the bedrooms, so walked up the staircase. In a house like this I expected to see a huge sweeping staircase with a heavy oak banister, but the staircase was narrow, creaky, wooden and white. I remember being disappointed — and that it was really hard climbing the steps.
Once on the second floor, though all disappointment fled. While now, in my awake state I think this floor had a stupid layout, in the dream it was ideal. To get from one room to another, you usually had to go through another room. At the end of the corridor was a large room that I did a twirl in and claimed to be my room. It had a small half-bath, but the toilet had an assistive device — the beige plastic kind with handles. I worried that perhaps the previous owner died in this room, and decided this was not going to be my bedroom after all. We thought the center room could be Clare’s, but because Andrew would have to walk through it to get to his room, thought that not a good choice either.
It was then time to sign the papers (I guess they accepted our bid!) so we went back downstairs to do so.
About this time Dean woke up which in turn woke me up. As I stated before, I fell back asleep in order to see the rest of the house.
When I got back to the dream, Clare had fallen asleep in one of the bedrooms (did I mention the previous owners left a lot of furniture — and not just in the basement?) so I picked her up and carried her up the stairs to the third floor. (In reality she is 4 inches taller than I am and I doubt I could carry her up any steps, let alone steep, creaky narrow ones.) We got to the third floor and began exploring. This floor was laid out in a much more usable fashion, but this time the hallway was on the wall side of the house — none of the rooms would have windows. We didn’t look in any bedrooms, but did peak into a bathroom. This room was tiled in that black and white you see in some older homes, but the shower was on a pedestal – you had to climb half a dozen winding metal steps to use it. Underneath was a flower garden. We thought it wondrous. The sink had no faucet or spigot so in order to wash your hands you had to reach up into the shower.
One room on this floor seemed ideal for a library. The door was different — etched glass in an ornate wooden frame. But all that was on the inside was a small closet and a window. We thought perhaps to line the closet with bookshelves and make a window seat, but it was disappointing.
Before we could visit the top story we were called downstairs again. This time because the owner’s children were there to clean out the pump room. I’d not remembered that most rooms had aquariums, and this room was the room that held all the pumps for those aquariums. None of them were very pleased to be there.
The next part of the dream took place outside the house. While the house looked the same, there was now a construction crew digging up some of the land around the house. My sisters-in-law stood by me. We’d been asked, by the previous owners to call the house after them. The name began with a Ch, but I don’t remember what it was. Maybe Choice? Chance? Not Charles. We’d planned on calling it something else, but figured this would be ok and I looked forward to getting mail that simply said:
We couldn’t stay in the house that night — what with the construction and pump room cleaners I guess, so we walked away with our friends, Alison and David. Janet was there too. The last thing I remember hearing before I awoke again was Alison worrying that Janet’s daughters would have to cross busy streets to get to school from that house, and me suddenly remembering that our three families had planned on buying a home together.
When I was awake I was disappointed at not seeing the fourth floor of the house and finding out why the windows had pillows stuffed in them. I was also slightly disappointed that we hadn’t moved into the most unusual house in Bethesda. Then, as I sat up, was no longer disappointed. I like my house. Sure, I know every inch of it* — so no surprises left, but its a good solid house with friendly neighbors.
*Actually we recently found out that the house has a secret room, under the screened porch. When the house was built the builder excavated the room, but didn’t leave an opening. Some of the neighbors have opened theirs. Clare wants to open ours. I want to keep it closed — as one place I’ve not seen, but know its there.