(Photo courtesy of hotographersdirect.com)
When I was a child, I used to have this recurring dream.
In the dream, I am asleep in my bed on the second floor of my parents’ house. (Note: There was only the one bedroom upstairs, plus a storage area and an attic.) I wake up and go to one of the two large closets in the room, the one used to store out-of-season wear. I open the sliding doors, step inside, (these were not walk-in closets), and hunker down beneath the rack of hanging clothes. (I can see them still — skirts and blouses, my father’s one good suit, my mother’s dresses, all draped in dry-cleaner’s plastic.) At the back of the closet is a small green door. I open it and crawl through. The space beyond in a tunnel of narrow twists and turns. I make it though and find myself in a cavernous storage area filled with things I’ve lost or out-grown through the years. I see old board games, books, toys, a desk. There are mounds of stuff everywhere, although it all seems somewhat orderly to my mind, as if there’s a system to it. I walk through the room, taking note of my new-found old things, taking joy in their rediscovery, delighted to find them still accessible…
And then I wake up.
I had that dream several times, at least once a year. At some point, I noticed that the door appeared to be getting smaller. Probably it was that I was growing larger/growing up. The last few visits, I really had to squeeze to get in and the turnings in the tunnel were difficult to get through. I got stuck a few times and was afraid I wouldn’t get loose.
After awhile, I didn’t have the dream anymore.
On New Years’ Eve of 1971, my freshman year in high school, my niece Michelle spent the night with me. A mere five years separates us, so in some respects we’re more like sisters than aunt and niece. We had a great time — eating pizza, watching Jerry Lewis in “Geisha Boy,” and ringing in the new year. Just after midnight we fell asleep. In the morning, as we lay in the double bed slowly waking up, Michelle said, “I had a weird dream last night.” And she proceeded to tell me about the small green door inside the closet, the tunnel beyond, and the room of lost things.
You can imagine my reaction. I’d never experienced a shared dream (and haven’t since). I have no explanation for how or why it happened. But it makes me wonder. Does each of us carrying within, somewhere hidden, such a repository of the things we’ve loved and lost? I’m not talking about living things (there were no people or pets in that mysterious room, it’s rafters shrouded in shadow), but stuff, the markers of our lives as we grow and change, the things for whom we had great affection at the time? Is there an energy resonance that lingers beyond the pale, a “Heaven” (if you will) for lost bits of our lives?