My neighbor around the corner used to walk her little boys by my house with their big wheels. We would chat sometimes and she mostly complained about the people who lived behind her who were constantly annoyed by the noise wafting from her back yard when her family and friends were in the pool or just out BBQing. And she always punctuate the conversation with “But I will never move! This is my dream house!”
Imagine my surprise when a couple months ago, her sons now graduated from high school, I spotted a big fat For Sale sign on her property. Now they are gone- to where I have no idea. Since her sons were old enough to travel the neighborhood independently, our only communication was a wave as I drove by her house. She was usually outside meticulously manicuring her yard and garden and/or washing down the entire street in front of her house in her bathrobe.
When doing therapy with children, a very common assessment tool is called “House, Tree, Person”. The child is asked to draw all three on a blank piece of paper and the idea behind this is that they will “project” into the drawing aspects of their inner world. I’ve always loved doing this with my little clients, allowing both of us to relax and get to know each other. (And of course, I love any opportunity to color with my set of 64 Crayola Crayons-Burnt Umber and Brick Red being my favorites..)
In my quest to “let go” in 2015, I threw away all my notes and paraphenalia from graduate school, including my very first House, Tree, Person drawing. But it doesn’t really matter. Every one I’ve ever drawn looks just like this one. I did this the other day sitting at my kitchen table. You might ask if this is my “dream house”. Not really. I think I’m the only woman on earth who has never longed for her “dream house”.
Rather, I have many houses that I dream about.
Shortly after we moved from sunny California to Portland Oregon, my son Patrick, then 9 years old, had a vivid dream about our family home we had sadly left behind. He was outside playing with his brothers and the neighborhood kids with squirt guns. Out of water, he attempted to charge into the kitchen for a refill but found the front door locked. A stranger opened it and promptly announced “you don’t live here any more”.
Pausing here for a brief meltdown.
I grew up on Halo Drive in Compton, California. I had my babies on Tedemory Drive in Whittier. I sent my first son to high school from SE 31st Street in Portland, Oregon. And I launched all three of them into adulthood from my current home on Del Monte Avenue. Each house was a “dream house” to me because the people I loved the most made it just that. And in each house, a part of me was projected on to the walls and floors and empty spaces as my own personality and inner being grew and developed, magically displayed like a crayon drawing on a clean white piece of linen paper.
I’m moving, downsizing, cleaning, sorting and putting up for sale once again a house I will someday dream about. I’m feeling both excited and sad and several other emotions in between. But I am holding the tension of the opposites deep within as I go through this process. It’s time to make a change, to grow in a new direction, to take a chance, to redirect the energy in my life. It will be a bittersweet journey.
I will take this home with me. Every house I’ve ever lived in has taken up permanent residence in my heart and soul, carefully placed on my own personal Street of Dreams.
And I can revisit them any time I like.