Dreaming of an Old Friend and a Past Home

One of the people from my childhood days and I still keep in touch. She's one of my oldest friends, and every time I say that I feel as though I'm insulting her.

She's younger than me, by more than three months.

My oldest friend, who I've known for more than 20 years, is in his 60s. Yeah, he's old.

I saw my younger, oldest friend, last night, and even though we don't see her nearly as often as I'd like, we do still keep in touch and make an effort to get together whenever we can. She and her husband don't live in Ottawa, and so I only see her when she comes to visit her mother and sisters, who are still here, or my family and I make the rare trip to Guelph, when we can.

It's funny that my friend was in town this weekend. It was only a couple of weeks ago that she was on my mind, in a dream. Not one of those types of dreams: she's my friend, one of my oldest friends.

Despite it being winter in Ottawa, my dream took place in the summer, where the trees were in full growth, full of dense, green leaves. The roads were dry and people were out in droves.

My friend and I were cycling around Ottawa—the dream had us near the Portage Bridge and the Ottawa River Parkway. At the start of my dream, I wasn't as surprised by my friend's presence as I was wondering whose bike I was riding, and why I wasn't on my own.

My real-life bike was so much better.

As quickly as we had found ourselves on the western edge of the downtown core, we had somehow whisked ourselves to the east-end suburbs of New Edinburgh: specifically, on Douglas Avenue. We cycled down the road that I haven't been on since I lived there, in the summer of 1990, when I had a basement apartment in a three-story house that was owned by the sister of another friend, who I've known since journalism school.

(I keep friends for a very long time.)

As we cycled down Douglas, I didn't recognize the houses that lined the avenue. Many of the houses on that street were more than 50 years old, but the houses in my dream seemed more modern. As we approached the halfway point, between Beechwood and Putman Avenues, we rolled past a vacant lot and I realized that this was the spot where my old house lay. Instead of the three-story house, a rectangular lot, where the foundation had been filled with gravel, marked the once-grand structure. Only a recess, where steps led down to the basement door, was recognizable.

I tried explaining to my friend the layout of the basement, walking over the gravel to map out the corridor from the interior basement steps, past my bathroom, and down a hall to my bedroom.

It was at this point where the dream began to fade and I began to return to the real world, as my alarm woke me from my sleep.

The dream is foggier now. But what remains clear is my old friend, the bike ride, and the vacant lot.

An old friend, who is still very much a part of my life, and an old house, which lasted for only a brief time in my past and hasn't been thought of since.

Dream analysts: fill your boots.



Note: when I started writing this post, I consulted Google Maps to get a street view of my old home, where I lived in a basement apartment for about four months or so, in 1990. The house is gone, replaced by a modern structure, as have many of the houses down Douglas Avenue. I haven't seen that street in more than 25 years, but in my dream I somehow knew that everything had changed.

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