It’s a theme that crops up in my writing, in poetry and fiction and here on the blog. Granny’s house in the woods, place of magic and transformation. It is both the house of Red Riding Hood’s grandmother and also Baba Yaga’s house, because I’ve seen them as the same for many years now.
I also go to my grandmother’s house when I dream. My maternal grandmother died more than a decade ago, and I haven’t been into that house since then. Five generations of my family have slept under that roof, so it feels a bit odd that now the house is home to people I don’t know. As a teenager, I slept there. It was complicated for me – there was a lot I loved about both the house and my grandmother. But I was mostly considered a nuisance and living between two houses where I wasn’t much wanted.
When I dream about the house I lived in as a child, I only ever dream about trying to leave. For many years, this was one of a handful of anxiety dreams I had, and I dreamed of little outside those few recurring nightmares.
Dreams of my grandmother’s house are a bit more complicated. Often she is there, and I think this is part of my still working through the grief of not being wanted. We had quite a few rows in my last year or so there, because she didn’t really want me there – or at least gave that impression. With hindsight, I was an easy person to vent pain and frustration on, and maybe she didn’t believe I was serious about going. I don’t know. There are questions I never asked, and I remain a bit haunted by not knowing if she maybe cared for me more than I thought at the time. In recent years, a number of her friends have made a point of telling me how well my grandmother thought of me and how pleased she’d be with what I’m doing. I hope so.
I note that I only take the people I am closest to into dreams of my grandmother’s house. Without exception, these are people who have no knowledge of or, in my son’s case no real memory of the place. These are people I can only ever tell about that part of my life. I think there’s something in me that would dearly like to take them back and show them. I don’t know what any of that would look like to someone else.
Last night I took someone I love to my grandmother’s house, and I kissed them. In the dream, my grandmother was not there, and I knew she wasn’t there in a way that is different from other dreams. I don’t know if that means she won’t be coming back, or that I won’t be going back to the house. Something has changed. Perhaps it is simply that at this point in my life, the people who love me are larger and more significant presences than the people who did not love me in the way I needed when I was growing up.