Once I had a dream in which I returned to my Northern hometown with my two children. We arrived by car and got out to stretch our legs in a parking lot.
“Just smell the air!” I kept saying to my kids. “Take a deep breath . . .” and kept taking engulfing breaths of the fresh pine air. I spent time at a gas station and at the lake with an old friend, who seemed too busy to make time for me.
Later on that year, at a dream workshop, Toko-Pa Turner emphasized that to nuance the full meaning of a dream, we must gently alchemize it down to its essence. What is the main feeling of the dream? Where does the energy go? What is its gold?
Interacting with my hometown dream, the evocative smell of the pine-fresh air stood out, redolent, pure, laced with searing inescapable longing. My heart was completely lifted by that scent. I breathed it in deeper in my dream than I ever could’ve done in real life. My entire being expanded into and around it. It was life and death, all at once.
What did it give me, this sensation? It was one of utter freedom bound up with essential safety and nostalgic longing. It was childhood. Roots. Home.
It’s curious that in this dream, I was also spending time with an old friend who seemed too busy for me. I was waiting for her at the lake and she finally showed up for lunch, but she had to leave soon after.
So, the dream left me with questions.
Am I tending to my innate rootedness? Is my heart feeling pure? What relief am I seeking and where?
I felt the same poignant wandering pull again last fall, after my eldest sibling committed suicide.
When she died, she was living another 16 hours’ drive south of my hometown. The whole family had to converge on her messy apartment in that isolated bleak spot, where she’d decided to opt out. In effect, it became our job to put a real end to her life because she’d left so much of it behind and untended. Unfinished.
Probably the most horribly depressing thing I’ve ever done.
This is why, relatively nearer to my childhood stomping grounds, I had to make the extra effort to spend some time there. A return to the long-lost pines of my childhood. So I rented a compact-SUV and drove North on the rough highway to its bitter end. Home.
Along the way, I noticed every single frozen bullrush thrusting up from a snowbank – every pond and stream – every marbled cliff – every wink of sunshine on snow.
My heart knew this place.
I arrived in the late afternoon, just when the sun was sinking. The air was stinging crisp, withering everything in my sightline. Thin black trees poked up from the blue crust of snow like shadow-wraiths. I wandered into the same old nondescript swamp where I’d gone as a child. All the edges of me froze, but I kept on moving.
I breathed. I breathed.
My sibling was no more. My family no more. All of us orphans; none of us living here in this place anymore.
Everything ends. Everything will die.
But these trees. This sky.
Read more of Lone Peep’s writing at Sledgehammer of Love.