My waking dream this morning (rather, dream after I woke and fell asleep again) was my favorite kind of dream — a house dream. Only the other day I lamented, either to someone or to myself (is it worrying that I don’t remember if I was talking to myself or someone else?) that I’d not had a house dream in a while.
This was different from other house dreams because the house we’d bought was clear across the country in San Francisco. We’d visited it before — maybe to look at it to consider purchasing it or as tourists. In the dream, it was moving day. We’d just gotten off the plane and were on our way to the house wondering when Clare and Andrew would arrive to help us move in. Dean and I arrived at the house, which was somehow connected to a church that we also now owned, but rented out to a congregation, and let ourselves in.
The door was open and when we walked in the front door someone asked us if we belonged there. We showed them that we had the key and said it was our house. The person, a workman, said we should look around. We started in the kitchen and moved to the living room where we were glad to see a golden-yellow mid-century modern leather sofa until we noticed that the front of the middle cushion was in shreds. As we walked around the house more we noticed a lot of sofas and other furniture including an old crank telephone.
Clare arrived and was sad that we’d bought this house after she moved out because it was a Victorian mansion and she’d wanted to grow up in one. At this point, I was carrying her around like she was a child. I told her that now we’d be only a short airplane trip away instead of a 5-hour airplane trip away.
We walked into the master bedroom and noticed an ornate door that we’d missed on our first visit. The door led to a walk-in closet with views of a river running through downtown (yes, I know there is no river in San Francisco, but my dream self saw it). The closet also had a staircase that led downstairs.
As we continued our tour of the house we encountered more and more people who looked like they were either tourists or were shopping. I went back to the master bedroom and noticed a hospital bed behind a curtain and saw a man in the corner, crying and looking at some papers. I wondered if someone he loved had just died in the house.
I followed a woman dressed as a waitress into the walk-in closet and down the stairs. We went out a door and I tried to talk to her, to ask her if people in San Francisco were friendly because by this time I was not sure we’d made the right decision, moving across the country into a huge, possibly haunted, Victorian mansion. She would not answer me and disappeared into a doorway. I turned around and realized that I was in 1800’s San Francisco.
That’s when I woke up and my first thought was “how the heck could we afford a Victorian mansion in San Francisco?” My second was that I was relieved that we were still in Bethesda. My third was how weird it was that I was carrying Clare.
The house in San Francisco: I bought Ruth Franklin’s biography of Shirley Jackson a few weeks ago and read a bit of it which mentioned the house that Jackson likely based “Hill House” on. I must have had that at the back of my mind, although I have not yet read “The Haunting of Hill House“, I have seen both movie adaptations of it.
The people in the house: After thinking about the dream for a short while I thought that aspects of it were like the House on the Rock in Wisconsin, so perhaps the people were visiting a similarly strange house in San Francisco.
Carrying Clare: A few days ago I had the pleasure of holding a family friend’s 2-month old grandson. I remember thinking back to when I held my own children like that.
Time Travel: I don’t know — I like time travel. I like the staircase being the portal.
Shredded couch cushion: We have a leather sofa I hate in our basement and Dean just bought something to fix it. I was hoping we were going to replace it instead.
Or maybe I have been watching Twin Peaks too close to bedtime!