Dreaming of Houses

6 minute read

So I'm at a loss for a blog post this coming weekend. It's a Thursday as I write this, so I'm coming up against the clock a bit. I've got another book review scheduled for next week, but I'd rather not do two of those in a row.

I figured I'd do another of these dream musings, since that is far and away the most popular post I've had so far. A whopping two comments! I'm clearly ready for the big leagues.

This post isn't gonna be nearly as detailed as the last one, and even that wasn't much. Rather, I'm gonna talk about a recurring idea in my dreams. It's been popping up in my dreams for years, and I've got no clue why it's happening in the first place. It's certainly not something I give much thought in my waking life, yet my dreams make this idea so intricate that I'm clearly missing something here.

Really should keep a dream journal one of these days. Though, it's a little hard since I'm not really conscious until about fifteen minutes after I get out of bed. Doesn't even cross my mind to write something down, even though I've got a notebook and pen right there, for that express purpose.

The header image's another one of mine, the courtyard of an apartment building I checked out last year. I kind of liked the ambiance of it, how compact yet cozy it felt. It's here since it's the only house-y image I could find.

I dream of a lot of houses. I have no idea why.

Rather, I dream of extremely intricate houses, more mazes than actual living places, full of hallways and switchbacks and tiny dead ends. These things are like mansions, it's hard to impart in words just how big they feel. Some dreams, it's like I'm wandering for hours. Sometimes, I know exactly where I'm going, just passing through a space impossibly vast. Others, well, it's just wandering.

I don't really remember when I first started having these dreams. I remember a few proto-variations on the idea, like a giant skyscraper hotel that I had to cross over a bottomless pit into via a tiny floating platform. There might have been countless examples I've forgotten over the years.

The first real example is...I guess I was in middle school or thereabouts. I was fleeing from the villain of a TV show I watched at the time, into this big white manor. It was a sunny day, I remember, and the white of the house was a bit blinding.

I wish I could tell you what was inside this house, but I can't. I have vague memories of more white rooms, maybe a living room with a bay window, a long staircase with a white banister, but it's been a long time. I distinctly remember entering a darker room, no windows, a solitary white bulb hanging over an ominous doorway, with stairs leading down. I can't remember much else about the room, the walls might have been stony and there might have been tools or other mechanical equipment. It wasn't a very big room, used expressively for utility than any kind of aesthetic. I remember standing in this room, still fleeing from that villain, knowing I'd have to descend into the earth and fearing whatever laid beneath. At the time, I'm pretty sure I knew what was down there, something worth fearing, but it's long gone by now.

I did eventually descend, of course. I have vague images of wandering through a cave system, but that's about it.

I've had multiple dreams like this over the years, all involving distinctly different houses. Different architecture, decoration, rooms and hallways. I don't think I've ever repeated a house, although I recall strong feelings in the dream that I've been there before. Or, at least, I know more about the area than I can recall upon waking.

The strangest part is feeling that some dreams feel like direct continuations of others, one giant narrative that's been ticking along by itself in my subconscious. More on that later.

What intrigues me most about these dreams are how varied they can be. I'll enter someone's house that I'll know with that dream-certainty is my friend's house, which I've been in before in real life, and it'll have this dim familiarity I can recognize as I reflect back on the dream. It'll start out very much like the actual person's house, and then circumstances will force me into a hallway that shouldn't be there, or a secret passage in their bedroom.

I distinctly remember dream!me visiting my friend Mike's house, it looking a bit like it does in the waking world, and then I'm suddenly forced into a cramped secret passage because I think there's something evil inside the house? I crawl around in there, before emerging into this giant living room on the first floor, and there's sky lights, strange furniture, vaguely like their real-life living room but taken to extremes. I'd been on the second floor when I went into this passage, and emerged onto the first. I don't recall descending.

Another dream. I'm walking through what seems like a coastal house, not on the water but decently close to it. The decor is appropriately naval. It's a house I'm certain I've never seen before, but my mind constructs it with such startling reality that it might as well exist somewhere. The floors, the furniture, even a few pillars supporting the structure are wooden. Outside, I think it's evening, the sky a deep blue.

I can almost recall a structure to the place, but it feels like every time I turn my head, I spy another passage that wasn't there before. Every turn I take leads to even more passages, or tiny storerooms, I clearly remember a small bedroom, two tiny beds with a nightstand between them. It's like the whole house folds in on itself, this Euclidean nightmare that my mind concocted effortlessly.

Yet another dream. The stark and gloomy attic of my old home in New Jersey. In reality, a tiny, probably inaccessible space that might not have even existed, the only entrance in my sister's closet. I'd never been inside it before. And I still remember wandering around it, full of dusty boxes and...Christ, I don't even know what. I think I remember seeing that bedroom again, the two beds with the nightstand in between them. I don't know.

Thinking about it, I really should have checked that attic out when I had the chance. If I even could. Always felt like my stepfather kept stuff up there, but I never had the inclination to look. Besides, it would have been a bitch to wait until he wasn't home, then convince my sister to try it with me.

So yeah, I have no idea why this happens. Why my subconscious has decided upon endless, winding houses as its main shtick. Maybe it's a callback to when I was a child, dreaming of faraway, magical places but only ever seeing the same few rooms on my childhood home, or my aunt's apartment, or my grandfather's house. My mind making the best use of what it had to work with.

But that makes me wonder about what I alluded to before, the idea that some dreams feel like direct sequels to others. I recall thinking of dreams that I remember having, during a dream totally unrelated. I'll call back upon knowledge I know I had in another dream, and it'll influence my actions. I'll travel through some locale, sometimes even one of these strange houses, and I'll know I've been there before.

It's perplexing, to say the least. Like my subconscious is constructing its own narrative completely separately from my waking mind, suspending it for days, weeks, months at a time, before it feels ready to continue. I've only ever had the merest inkling of what happens in this dreams, but it makes me wonder sometimes.