When I became pregnant with my son nearly 30 years ago, I was in Iowa and winter was closing in. I returned to my hometown of San Diego for a couple of months to be warm, to be by the ocean, to listen. My son’s name came to me on a walk on the beach. I returned to Iowa when the weather turned to spring. Eventually my son’s dad and I moved to San Diego when my son was three. I don’t see Ben and I moving to San Diego, but it beckons.
Last night I had three dreams.
In one dream Ben and I had moved to another state to the upper floor of a diner that looked like it was straight out of the 50s. He left me there to do some work. The walls and stairs were covered in an orange-flowered wallpaper. It was hideous. I felt alone and restless and thought I’d like to visit my family in San Diego and then move somewhere in between them and my son who lives in Seattle.
In another dream I was traveling to San Diego with my son’s step-mother, my great-niece, and my brother and sister-in-law. I don’t know why…and I don’t remember much that was said except I remarked about stepmother’s hair that was dark and thick.
In the third dream I was at my old house in La Mesa, a suburb of San Diego. It was the house where I grew up with my mother and stepfather and for seven years, my brother. I heard singing from the house next door, where Mr. Gillette used to live. He was a taxidermist and lived in an old Spanish-style house in the trees. On the property were tiny houses in which he had various stuffed animals on display. It was a magical place for me as a child.
I went to the road above our adjacent homes and a troupe of singers was standing by the side of the road. I began talking to a man who pointed to “my home” and said, “Do you live there?” It was a modern home that now sits on the property…not the home I grew up in.
He asked if I wanted to see Mr. Gillette’s property. I walked to the edge of the road above Mr. G’s property. The Spanish style home in the trees was gone, replaced with a box-like modern home. Extending in front of the home to the left and to the right was an enormous rectangular swimming pool. It was as if I was looking at the effects of a dam, the water in the reservoir covering a forest. I was stunned. The man began to tell me about other “improvements” to the property and mentioned an office building that I could see below the property…where a canyon used to be.
Although dream interpreters might find other themes–like the past is over, or I don’t like orange-colored wallpaper–a San Diego theme also seems obvious. The weather is turning cold here in Washington; the holidays loom. I have a hurt foot which causes me to withdraw, not doing the things I love. I don’t have a job and depend completely on my husband to provide for us. I’m not looking forward to hunkering down by the wood stove all winter, seasonal affective disorder stalking me.
I want to get in the car and go, to not be so dependent on Ben that I can’t find my way in the world without him if I need to, or go on a trip without him. I love to travel with, and be with him, but he’s not free to go right now, and I’m feeling not free to stay right now. I’m afraid of turning inward, of becoming boring, of becoming old and without purpose, of hovering over Ben, watchful, wondering what he’s going to do next, rather than me doing something next.
Mostly I want to “be” in San Diego, just for a while, exploring old haunts, sitting atop Mt. Helix, a place of refuge when I was a child, listening. I want to be by the ocean at Encinitas and Torrey Pines and Del Mar and La Jolla. I want to visit my nephew and family in the Anza Borrego desert and sit on my meditation rock next to their home and not feel compelled to rush through our visits. I want to visit my brother and wife and friends longer than a day in the mountains east of San Diego.
And … I’d like to write and take photos and explore the places that shaped me, a writer’s pilgrimage to the place where it started, and the place I ran away from four separate times. Perhaps a reconciliation, a resolution, a healing. Perhaps, not. Perhaps it’s simply an idea, a restless dream.
I’m not sure how it will work out, or if it should. I may, in fact, be warming myself next to the wood stove all winter in Washington, bringing in the wood, shoveling snow, making stew. The thought makes me want to cry.