"...the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace."
Gaston Bachelard - The Poetics of Space
I love parties but sometimes I feel overwhelmed and find myself hiding in the kitchen. We held a party the other night and everyone was jammed in the kitchen at the very moment when I needed a few moments of escape. So I took myself out onto the veranda and sat observing the party from outside. Within, the house was glowing in candle light. People were dancing, laughing and chatting in corners. The huge timber bench in the centre of the kitchen was littered with assorted bottles, flowers and plates of food.
Here was my home full of beautiful friends that I have known and loved for many years. A home where my children are growing up, a home full of art works and old family furniture and the day to day chaos of family life.
But somehow, this home very seldom features in my dreams but I am sure that it will feature in the dreams of my children when they grow up.
The homes that appear most frequently in my dreams are the farm near Cootamundra, called “Colebrook”, a boat called “Cicci” a house in Holdsworth St. and a flat in Edgecliff Rd. These are the places that I lived with my parents and my sister and the places where many of my most potent childhood memories are housed.
Memory is a slippery entity and many of mine are lost. Something, no doubt, to do with my misspent youth. But I can recall with incredible clarity every detail of these childhood homes. The grain of the wooden furniture, the pattern of the linoleum, the smell and contents of cupboards, the position of artworks, the exact hue of paint colour on the walls, the implements and their correct storage places in the kitchen. But more than this, I can recall emotions that I experienced in all of these rooms and the events that triggered them. Joy, grief, frustration, guilt, impatience, boredom and excitement.
I remember the rooms I was in when finishing certain books. The way the story could shift my understanding of the world. I remember the images that came when I listened through headphones to certain records in my parents collection. I remember sitting at the top of the stairs trying to listen in to adult conversations downstairs. I remember certain powerful dreams that I would take downstairs to relate to my mother over breakfast. So many things.
There is an incredible potency to recollections that are associated with home. I think that home is indeed a place where we can feel safe and free to be ourself. A place to daydream and stare into space without being teased.
One of my favorite recurring dreams is of a house that is unfamiliar to me but is apparently my home. It is a kind of composite building that is somewhat derelict, very small and extremely cluttered. I am walking through the rooms when I discover a door that I have never seen before. Behind the door is a vast, empty room with an impossibly high ceiling. I am astonished to find this room and thrilled to have an empty space to call my own. I always glide around the room like an ice skater, reveling in this newly discovered space and freedom. Finding this empty room always feels like I am being shown the enormity of my potential as a human being. This dream is always a gift.
On a recent trip to the Netherlands and Italy, I retraced my steps and revisited a number of old, beloved friends. In Holland I stayed with the M family who I have known since childhood. I realised that somehow this place and those people all felt like home to me as well. I understood that home can be found not only within the framework of architecture, but through the framework of love, history and connection.
I have many homes, some in other continents, some from the past that live in dreams, some that are here and now and some that are people and not houses. Home is where the heart is and my heart has many homes.