I dream of houses. Whenever I remember a dream, it is almost always about a house, or sometimes snakes or rats, but that is a different story altogether. A recent dream of mine including a house, but this one was filled with all sorts of people milling around. This house served as a container of many things: life, love, memories, change, nostalgia, hospitality, the old guard and tradition, as well as the new and the progressive. This particular archetypal house stirred me to understand the meaning of the house, not only as structure, but as an archetype of the mind and of humanity.
I will describe this dream. Most of the time, when I dream of a house, there will always be some sort of haunted room that I am both avoiding, but, at the same time, drawn to and fascinated by. This house was different. There was no haunted room. I searched and searched, but could not find that thickness in the air, the feeling of a presence or a pull or heavy gesture all around. The house was completely empty of prior deathly existence. There was a different figure to replace the inevitable ghost. Instead of an apparition, there was the physical reality of the previous owner. She, a woman of about 80 years of age wearing an old house dress and slippers, was still wandering the house like a ghost, where it was clear that my husband and I had just taken ownership of it. While I was struggling to discard all of the trash and old catalogs littering the house, she was frantically trying to prevent this by collecting what she saw as sentimental tokens of her life and love that this house was imbued with into discrete piles, neatly separated from the real trash (well, `real` trash to her). I was meanwhile collecting in a dark trash bag old home design catalogs from the late sixties that were mirroring the design of the renovated kitchen, circa 1969. The pictures were the same as what I was seeing all around me (I was organizing a baker`s rack filled with papers in the kitchen), but the wear and tear of time was evident to me, and I could almost feel the age of the surfaces and masses around me. To the lady, the objects represented her lived life and her loved ones, her kitchen, her care and concern for those who crossed her threshold, the food she cooked, fuel for the other lives she had touched through the years, while to me, they represented the past that must be discarded and replaced in order to make way for a new life, a new way of living, a better world, the beginning of the future of my family and our own ancestral line.
It was not only the objects I was discarding, however. With chisel in hand, I began to literally destroy and discard the kitchen itself. With every blow of the hammer, the walls and tiles of the kitchen crumbled. I remember feeling empowered, my strength increasing with each strike at the mortar. As I continued, something emerged beneath the dust of my destruction: it was the old original kitchen made new again. The white subway tiles gleamed in the light, even the room began to get brighter as I worked. There was no sign of wear and tear in this new kitchen. It was the essence of the house finally revealed after years of being pulled into the house`s subconscious. The woman who had been pacing behind me, back and forth, disappeared as the dust settled. Without a trace of her physicality or essence, the room was made new again. The old kitchen was completely gone (no dumpster needed), and the sun`s rays were streaming into the room through the line of windows along the driveway side of the house. My husband, my mom, my son (my own ancestral line), and many others were there as this transformation occurred. I had been brewing some coffee for everyone: the first creation to be made within the new walls of this house. The coffee was too weak though, even too weak for my mom`s mild taste buds.
I somehow knew that it would take time before I was able to replace the life that had been there before. The coffee would get stronger, my own magazines will start to fill the shelves with the year 2013 printed upon them, I would fill those cupboards with my own china, the refrigerator with my own culinary creations. I believe that the lady had left because she understood that life renews and moves on. We are all part of life in our own time, we each take a piece of the timeline to do what we will, and the house will be our vessel, our time machine that will enable us to hold onto those very artifacts that make our lives sacred. Houses, therefore, have become our sacred vessels. And truly, houses are one of my own truly sacred objects. This is the reason why I feel it my duty to honor the essence of houses, to reveal their inner honest beauty instead of the falseness of pretense. I see houses as mirrors of our bodies. As our bodies serve as vessel through our journey through our lives, so houses are the vessels that contain the body and all of what is truly sacred in the lives that we choose to lead.