Monday, May 12, 2008


I’m running the circuit: from the foyer through the little hallway—the one with the high shelf of books about Eastern Orthodox iconography and Turkomen rugs—and through the kitchen (the vinyl floor looks like a brick patio; a red stepstool sits under the shelf of hippie cookbooks), through the pantry with its weird little sink and its glass-paned cabinets (our family’s food is on the lower right shelves), and into the dining room, where spider plants hang over a newspaper-strewn table . I’m running with all the speed I can manage, but it’s like I’m running through sand. My muscles strain but I’m barely moving. It’s a dream, of course. Forgive the creaky narrative device. I make it though the double doors into the living room and through the other double doors, back into the foyer. That’s the circuit. I look over my shoulder and see what’s chasing me. It’s an angel, a cherub--a fat, winged baby hovering behind me like a hummingbird.

This was a recurring dream in my childhood, mysteriously linked in my mind to the fire that Nate started in the crawl space under the roof when I was five or six years old. It’s just one of many recurring dreams I used to have about 2 Garden Terrace.

Firemen on the roof

It’s been over twenty years since I last slept in the house, but I still dream there—less frequently as time passes, but surprisingly often. And when I wake up, it’s like I’ve been dreaming of a lost civilization… an Atlantis… and I feel a pang of grief and longing. The place was so vast, so baroque, so variously populated and complete. I know everyone feels the loss of their childhood in some way; thus the question that pursues me like the fat, winged baby: Am I just feeling what everyone feels? Or is it something more epic? Because the Terrace was not just our house. It was an institution supporting a now-extinct way of life. Now that we’ve lost Desch, it’s really truly good and gone. But the fire cherub still hovers, and it wants stories. And pictures. Calling all Atlantians.

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