Thursday, August 18, 2016

Burning Down the House

“Ma’am, what you’re doing is illegal. It’s arson.”

At once it became clear that we, my husband and I, had done something wrong.

All activity in my mind stopped as I looked at the flames starting to lick at the second story of our home. This was the place we had watched being built, the one we raised our children in, whose walls contained the whispers of every memory we had ever made as a family. It was our landing place, witness of milestones yet recent frustrations as every inch needed attention, from walls patched and painted, lighting fixtures, cabinets and countertops replaced, to leaks located and cracks repaired.

We just wanted to build another house, I had explained to the police officer. We aren’t running away – we’re going to build a new one, right here. The cop looked at us like we were crazy.

Burning our house down to start fresh seemed like the best option for us, but now, police car lights flashed behind us and neighbors peered out their windows to gape at our biggest mistake to date. All justifications and reasoning for what we did dried up and blew away like smoke. My stomach sank into the deepest part of me as reality dawned.

We, my husband and I, committed an irrevocable crime. Our life together, the one that we had built and nurtured and stumbled through to this point, was gone. The future was struggle, brokenness, shame for what we did. It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

It hit me that we had overlooked emptying the house of valuable possessions like photos and electronics and jewelry, as well as the everyday stuff of life: kitchen utensils and bath towels and the clothes that we wore every day. Relief slowly washed over me that we were caught, that this could be stopped; maybe if the fire department gets here in time the children will be able to salvage something to hang onto except memories…

“You both have to come with me, now. Let’s go.”

* * *

My eyes snapped open, welcomed by the hum of air conditioning and the darkness of three a.m. lit only by the moon. It was just a dream, I said to myself. A nightmare, my body confirmed, by the heaviness of my limbs and the deep pit in which my stomach still resided.

It had been a long time since I had a nightmare. Why now, why this one? When am I going to be too old for bad dreams?

There’s no doubt that I am imperfect, have burned a bridge or two in my lifetime. But a whole house? Our whole life, up in flames? Years of perusing my mom’s old dream book as a kid still held onto my psyche.

I had this dream recently, just three weeks ago. It was as clear as if it actually happened. It still gives me chills to remember. Likely it will stay with me as so many other dreams – bad and good – have.

What does it mean?

*******

This post inspired by:


Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #5: Share a memorable dream.

18 comments:

  1. That must have been a really spine chilling dream for you. I guess it happens as there are some unresolved issues which still had to be sorted out.

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    1. It was just awful, and so vivid. There are always some unresolved issues, aren't there? Life is a series of lessons to be learned!

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    1. Horrible. It was definitely a break from the usual "nameless-faceless-shadow-man chasing you" nightmare. It's chilling when what is most dangerous in the dream is something you've done.

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  3. Dreams can be so crazy! I have a few recurring dreams that continue to make me scratch my head!

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    1. Here's where I say that I've only had one reoccurring dream, and it was that Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were our best friends. We had many good times in those dreams.

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  4. Wow, what an intense dream. Can't say I've dream anything quite like that. My dreams are fanciful fluff.

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    1. I could go for some fanciful fluff, myself.

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  5. Dreams like this are so fascinating to me! It probably represents a deep down desire to start over...or maybe you recently discussed moving and your brain turned it into a fire. Crazy how our brains operate!

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    1. It really is crazy! I am always looking for a way to start over, and I'm usually confined to little things - painting a room, buying a new top - so it makes sense that my brain goes big when it's safe to do so.

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  6. Interesting and, yes, intense!

    I agree with Kat on your dream representing a fresh start, any interpretation is subjective to all that might be going on in your life. Dreams that haunt me are the ones where I find myself trying to talk, or yell, in some conflicting situation but... am unable. It will be interesting to find out what everyone dreams tonight, after reading your post! Well done!

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    1. Your dreams remind me of my own, where I'm trying to move or talk and can't - I've had some very strange awake/asleep moments where I'm caught in the middle and my body feels heavy and I can't move. I hate that!

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  7. Wowza! I'm gonna go with a big change is coming as fire can actually signify a new beginning or cleansing. OR worry for a loved one or something close and personal. OR you are just really pissed about something. And in that case, boy howdy that's a serious case of rage ya got there lol

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    1. Well, there are all sorts of beginnings going on now, as it is the start of a new school year, and there's always something to worry or be angry about, so I'd say that during the relatively peaceful time that I had this dream (I was at church camp with teens!), all of those high-octane events were still working overtime in my mind. Makes perfect sense!

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  8. This is scary, but what a relief to have awakened and discovered it was, in fact, just a nightmare. You have a do-over, although you didn't do anything wrong in the first place - except fall asleep.

    Fresh starts. New priorities. I read this at the same time I read your previous post about stepping back and I think they're related. I don't know why or how exactly; but it feels like you're reevaluating a lot in your life.

    XO

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    1. I think of your situation, and it reminds me of how truly scary it is. Also I think you're right about the fresh starts and new priorities. Those things go along with nearly everything that is happening in my life right now. Now, where to start?

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  9. I think it's symbolic and that you're ready for a fresh start. In any case it sounds like a vivid dream at the very least.

    And why, might you ask, am I actually commenting your blog after all this time, sorry friend that I am? :-)

    Well, I just came to get your banana bread so I'm basically just using you.

    PS. Love you for realz.

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    1. *snort*

      I will trade recipes for heartfelt comments on my blog every single time.

      Thanks, friend. xoxo

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