Over the past 20 years, I have had a vivid reoccurring dream about moving out of our family home.
In the dream, I am just a child.
I am sitting on the floor of my old bedroom packing one last box and sobbing while I’m doing it. My room looks exactly like it did when I was growing up. The four walls are covered in the same flowered wallpaper that I tried to cover up with Shawn Cassidy, Scott Baio and Duran Duran posters over the years. The back of my door has the crooked pen marks and dates from my makeshift growth chart. Boxes are stacked up and pushed against the walls.
The contents of this last box are vague, but there’s my “Le Mutt” (Buffy) stuffed animal inside and a basketball trophy at the top of the box that usually catches my eye. The brass girl with the high ponytail and the basketball at the tip of her fingers pokes out of the box, so I cannot close it. Anyway, I don’t want to close it. I’m stalling and I don’t want to leave my room.
The whole time I’m there, I hear voices downstairs. Everyone’s busy and moving. Busy and moving. I ignore them. I am busy too. I am able to ignore the voices and commotion downstairs until they start shouting and their calls becoming more urgent, “BETH! B-E-T-H!!! We have to go! The new owners are here! The new owners are here! They are coming in the front door now! You have to leave NOW!”
And that’s how it ends.
I have had that dream or a slight variation of the dream four times since my mom died. In one of the dreams, I kept the key and went back in because I “forgot” something. The new owners returned home to find me there and I pretended to be checking the furnace because I wanted to make sure it was working properly. (That part cracks me up. I mean, what in the hell do I know about heating and air conditioning?) Anyway, their response was not exactly warm and welcoming and I slowly walked out the door.
Every time I wake up from the dream, I am sad.
The countdown is on and I have pledged that my old bedroom will be the first room packed up before the movers get here, just in case.
Besides, the room is different now. The wallpaper is gone and the walls are painted Navajo White. When we stay at the house, our daughter, Kate, has claimed it as her bedroom. It is no longer mine.
It is the memory of the room that is mine.
When I came back here by myself a few weeks ago to clean, clear out and pack up, I found a very real memory tucked away in the back of one of my mom’s dresser drawers.
She kept a small corner of the wallpaper from my bedroom.
In all of my dreams, I couldn’t have ever imagined this…and I am happy.