Do you dream in your childhood home? I do. When I went to that funeral at Christmas, I had to walk right past my childhood home, where I haven’t lived for almost ten years now. It felt familiar, as though I had never left it behind. That’s probably because I never have, not in my subconscious mind anyway. I don’t think anyone is living in that house at the moment and it made me sad to see it being devoured by trailing plants. I could just about see the patio and the back door through the thick thorny hedge, the same hedge I remember picking blackberries and caterpillars from when I was a child.
I didn’t think about it much that day because my thoughts were elsewhere, but I started to ponder it later. It was a horrible house; a big, modern, characterless red brick rectory plonked in an old field. The hallway was a long, dingy corridor carpeted grey. There was a cupboard in my bedroom that led to the loft. Outside, so many hiding places, which were great for hide and seek when I was tiny and sneaky cigarettes when I got a bit older. So many of my dreams are set there, I have kept revisiting it over the years and remember every tiny detail. In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard wrote:
Of course, thanks to the house, a great many of our memories are housed, and if the house is a bit elaborate, if it has a cellar and a garret, nooks and corridors, our memories have refuge that are all the more clearly delineated. All our lives we come back to them in our daydreams.
Tom isn’t even three yet, but in the last week he has shown twice how he already connects strongly memories and place. Last week on the train to Liverpool, I wheeled his pushchair into the bright yellow disabled bay of a Merseyrail train. The last time we took a Merseyrail train was back in September, when we went to the Tate to catch Klimt. That day, he had been playing with a yellow snake and a blue frog. As soon as I wheeled him into that bay last week, he turned to me and said “Where’s my yellow snake and my blue frog Mum?”
On Friday, I was wheeling Tom home from nursery in the pitch black and I stopped to let a car pass at a junction. Here, back in October, Tom let go of a halloween balloon and cried as the wind tossed it away. He cried himself to sleep that night, moaning about the balloon. On Friday, as I stood on the pavement waiting for the car to pass, he said “Mummy, can you catch my pumpkin balloon?”
It was astonishing, but it also made me realise how I really need to get some sort of order in our house, otherwise Tom’s lifelong dreams are going to be about living in complete chaos. Bachelard wrote:
For our house is our corner of the world. As has often been said, it is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word. If we look at it intimately, the humblest dwelling has beauty.
Tom has a nice room, done out like the jungle with leaves and swinging orangutans, but the rest of the house is horrific. We have a lot of nice artefacts, books and photographs, but we also have crumpled clothes strewn over every surface. I can’t wait until summer so that I can dry washing on the line again!
I am staying in all Janaury writing and working so nothing much exciting to report this weekend. Tom went to Mum’s last night but that was to allow me to work, rather than to go out drinking. I got up this morning and decided to make myself some money selling holidays before getting started on the house. The phone didn’t stop all day but no one seems to have the money to actually book. As the hours wore on, I knew I had to blitz the house but I also know that I won’t have a house to blitz if I don’t pay my rent next month. My Uncle brought Tom back and stayed til about ten. Afterwards, I told myself to take one more call and it was a booking! I actually made enough money to justify a whole day’s work, but I wish it had been on the first call of the day on not the last.
So, here I am again, at midnight, finally turning my attention to my writing, knowing I will soon have to wade through the clothes and climb into bed. At this rate, our home will never be tidy, but at least after today, I am a little closer to being able to pay for it next month. It maybe untidy, but I love it here and I’m pretty sure Tom does, in our little corner of the world.