Last night I had the single most bizarre and wonderful dream I’ve ever had in my life. I hope I can get it all down before it’s gone. And I know that most people who read this won’t have the slightest clue of what I’m talking about and will therefore probably quit reading. If that’s the case then I guess I am my only audience for this one. Because if I can make sense of the dream, this is a story I’ll want to re-read from time to time.
I have very few childhood memories. Those that I have are kind of like old Polaroid pictures- you know the kind I mean? You had to shake them a little when they popped out of the cameras little uterus and they developed as the light hit them. Pretty ingenious actually. And maybe you didn’t really have to shake them. Anyway this dream was like a stack of old Polaroid pictures that has been in the bottom of a trunk with years of old smelly, too-small clothes and old Softball trophies on top. This trunk is something you might see at an estate sale. Precious only to those who lived with it, and could still remember it and enjoy sifting through it. (It also could be precious to the kind of person who cruises estate sales and antique shops and buys old photographs of people long dead and who they don’t know. Creepy, but interesting. But then again, so are some of us people, isn’t that right?)
Anyway, this dream was a trip down memory lane. Memories I’d forgotten that I’d forgotten. It was like the dream gods got together and made me a little gift. With a bow. And maybe some candy on top. It’s not even my birthday.
It began with my dad. This is my bio-dad, you understand. Although he wasn’t in the dream, there was this box full of things that I knew were his. I have no idea who gave me the box and that’s incidental. Every single item in the box was about me. A copy of every newspaper I ever wrote in in junior high and high school. I can sort of remember sitting down and reading a story or two. I was the Feature Editor, which, although I didn’t know it when I was 14, means that you like to make shit up rather than report news.
There were photos of me that I swear I can remember actually having existed. Pictures of me at all the ages from 10 to about 20. This will sound bull-shitty but I swear it’s true. Those are the years of my life that my father didn’t see me. Didn’t know me. He died shortly after. There were pictures from my and Brandon’s wedding. There were shiny softball trophies and team pictures. One of the softball pictures had my best som Kristin in it, as well as my step father Brent, who filled the missing father role very wonderfully for me. I wondered how on earth my father came to have these things.
Then I was in a house. It must have been for sale and having an open-house because there were people wandering through it that I didn’t know. Looking all purchasy. It was my house in West Jordan where I lived during those same years as the treasure box mentioned above. Give or take two years backward or forward.
The carpet was the same. There was some terrible wallpaper on the wall that, in my dream I swore my mother hung (and by god that wallpaper was the SHIT when she did. My mama has always had the flare.) Tile she and Brent laid themselves: still there. I remember the floor plan as though I lived there yesterday. (It’s one of the polaroids in the bottom of the trunk that maybe doesn’t have old orange juice spilled on it. One of my more vivid memories.)
Then there were more boxes. And as people wandered in and out of my childhood home I looked through them and found some more “polaroids”. A navy jacket was neatly folded and tucked away in there and when I lifted it out and smoothed out years of wrinkles I knew that it had been my moms. She used to do navy reserves when I was a kid. So did Brent. And as an adult and parent, part of me wonders if they did it to pay for softball for me. I never realized how expensive travel, and good bats and cleats and gloves and pitching and hitting clinics cost. Hell I even had a pitching coach who came to the West Jordan house and coached me in our huge backyard, where Brent had dug out some grass and made me a pitcher’s mound. It was ok. There was still plenty of room for the volleyball net and play space. Anyway I knew that jacket was hers. There were also these two heavy old bronze swans that we used to have on a coffee table, their long and graceful necks badly tarnished due to age, oxidation and lack of cleaning these many years.
It’s getting foggy now so I better bring this to a close or I’ll be feature editing again. I remember walking through the house, seeing everything the same as when I left it at 18, and wondering why the subsequent owners had left all of our stuff there. All of our furniture and decor. Wall paper and paint, everything. I wondered about it. But I was grateful that they had. The owners weren’t there. Only strangers milling about like zombies. Moving slowly, not talking to anyone. But I knew one of those assholes was going to buy the house before I could. I wanted to keep all those memories, you see. Because maybe the next owner wouldn’t be as kind as the previous ones. Maybe the next owner would gut it and change everything. Then where would all my memories go?
In true Seuss-dream fashion it gets progressively wilder at this point. There’s a backyard out of MTV Cribs with ponds and grass and an ice rink where a swimming pool would be. Then my mom beat me to buying the place. I woke up to pee shortly after.
When I lived in that house, the backyard was a place for playing catch, jumping on and sleeping out on the trampoline, playing volleyball or badminton with my family, waiting for my uncle Brad to be up on the roof with water balloons. That yard was where I first heard of O’Douls non-alcoholic beer that my uncle Kent brought. It was where my grandma and Grandpa were sitting in lawn chairs next to one another, next to me, watching their family hit the ball around and try to escape ensuing water fights. It was where, when it got dark outside, Brent and maybe an uncle or two would join my friends and me to play kick-the-can. It was where my first crush, Mike Peterson- lived across the street and the place where I left so many footsteps, roller skate tracks and bike skids between my house and Kristin’s. Years of going to each other’s house every year on Christmas Day to exchange gifts and show each other our crap. Her dad, Doug, used to call me Aggie (and still does) and always made me laugh. Lots of people called me Aggie in those days because no one could pronounce Anagnostakis. And I can remember being in a hurry to get married and have a last name that people could say, read and write without difficulty or instruction. And while I still really enjoy having an easy last name, I can’t help but think that, since I got married at the age of 19, that last name was the last thing I had from those age 10-20 years. My dad is gone, Brent is gone, the house in WJ is gone. After that my life changed and shifted into high gear. I got married, moved to California, went to the movies all the time, moved back, had a baby, got divorced and got a great job that accidentally turned into a career. There is now Josh and Ash and my charmed existence. And In the years of ages 20-40 those polaroids have had more and more junk piled on top of them in that old trunk. The trunk itself has faded bumper stickers that say Dukakis ‘88 plastered on it. Inside there are potato chip crumbs and old books and dried, smeared chocolate and popcorn kernels everywhere. The school papers have yellowed and the little bats are bent or broken off of the softball trophies. The letterman jacket is much too small. It’s The kind of debris that, if you’re the creepy sumbitch who buys the trunk at an estate sale, you don’t bother looking through the shit inside. You just pull on your rubber gloves and up end it into the dumpster at the gas station. But I love that debris. My memories are at the bottom of that grody old trunk, and it was nice to pay them a little visit. It’s been years since I’ve thought about most of those things in my dream. It was like I was in a museum of Natural Jess History. My admission was free. And the time I spent there was blissful and slow and enjoyed.