You know how you sometimes have a dream that stays right there with you for the entire day afterward, and you keep having flashes of it and the feelings it evoked?
I had one of those dreams last night.
I was back in an apartment that I lived in when I was a little girl. My parents, who were only in their early twenties, managed to scrape together a down payment to buy it just after I was born, and one of my earliest memories has me walking up a raw concrete staircase in a very tall building, with no railing and no carpeting, and a gaping hole where the elevator is supposed to be.
I lived there with both of my parents until they split up, when I was five. Soon afterwards the apartment became my property because they put it in my name. [I wrote a bit more about this here.] It was rented out in order to pay off the mortgage, and the surplus earnings were used to buy airplane tickets for me to travel back to Iceland in the summer.
There is a very bizarre incident connected with that apartment. When I was around seven or eight – my mother and I were back in Iceland for a couple of years, in between overseas moves – I became absolutely petrified that the building would catch on fire in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping. It was pretty heavy; a serious phobia. The apartment was on the fifth floor of an eight-story building and I was utterly terrified that there would be a fire and we wouldn’t be able to get out. So every night before I went to sleep I used to sneak over to the window and look all around – up, down and sideways – to make sure there were no red flames or billowing smoke anywhere. Only then did I feel safe enough to fall asleep.
This lasted for a very long time. Many many months. I was kind of ashamed and wanted to hide it. I didn’t even think my mother knew … and was very surprised when my father brought it up several years ago. I don’t know how he knew about it … I was pretty sure I hadn’t told him, and since my mother only spoke to him if it was absolutely necessary, it it not likely that it was her.
The reason he brought it up was pretty astonishing: about 20 years after my phobia was at its height, that one apartment – out of a total of 64 units in the building – caught on fire. It was completely gutted. Not only that, but the person who lived there just narrowly escaped injury, or death, by climbing over onto the next balcony – five floors up from the ground.
Pretty bizarre, huh? And I have never been afraid of being caught in a fire anywhere else. Never.
Anyway, last night I dreamed that I’d returned to the building to have a look around. It wasn’t poignant or painful at all … simply that EPI and I were looking for a new place to live and this happened to be up for sale, so we went to have a look. I went into the common area, downstairs, and everything was changed – and infinitely for the better. The old utalitarian spaces like bicycle storage and laundry had been replaced by a gorgeous, sprawling common room with a glass wall and a green lawn outside. There was lots of colour and everything very bright and cheerful. I then went up to the apartment itself, prepared to be put off by it, expecting it to be far smaller and more dingy than I remembered [as is often the case when you ‘go back’] – but no, it was a really wonderful space and had an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. I was stunned at how large and spacious and modern the rooms were, much larger than I’d remembered them, and how convenient everything was in the building. The place that once housed some of my darkest memories just radiated joy.
And now I’ve had a warm, fuzzy feeling all day because of that dream. They say that when you dream of houses, it represents your own self … in which case I’m taking this as a good sign.
STILL WINDY AND GETTING COOLER
Although we’re not complaining. It’s still relatively mild, enough to have a comfortable run, which is my main concern these days. And hey, it’s not like it’s hurricane Ike. Occasional rain, more of the same tomorrow. Currently 12°C [52F]. Sunrise was at 6:31 am, sunset at 8:17 pm.