835 S. Wheaton Avenue
I recently dreamt that Peter and I went back to Chicago for a visit. Except it turned out to be more than a visit. We ended up going back to our old house and taking it over. It was exactly the same as when we lived there – nothing had changed.
The dream was vivid – I swear I could smell the lilac by the front door and feel the hardwood floor of the dining room give way to the cold lino of the kitchen. But, even in Dreamland, I knew we were only there because of some weird quirk in the space-time-continuum. I remember asking Peter how we were going to pay the mortgage if my job was in Dublin.
When I told Peter about this dream, he asked me if we'd evicted the people who bought our house. We hadn't. The house had just been left for us, exactly as it had been. Like no time had passed, even though I knew that it had. I knew that we hadn't just visited Dublin and returned home. Home was in Dublin, but somehow, it was also at 835 S. Wheaton Avenue.
I don't know what this dream means. Maybe it's just as simple as my subconscious stating the obvious – even though I know we're needed in Peter's parents' house, a large part of me still desperately misses and craves having our own space. I know I don't regret having moved here and I know Dublin does feel like home.
But even being happy here and putting down some roots, I still have these extraordinary moments of intense dislocation. You know the feeling of deja vu? This is the exact opposite. With deja vu, you feel like you've been there before, that it's all very familiar, that a memory is just tickling at the edges of your consciousness. This dislocation is feeling that I'm not sure how I got here, that I can't believe I live here, that the terraced houses, corner shops, garden walls, roundabouts, and right-hand drive cars are utterly and indecipherably foreign. The accents on the radio, the focus of the news, the smells in the air - it's all new and different and just a little bit frightening.
Maybe this is what I get for waking up one day and decided to move halfway around the world. I've always told people that our decision was equal parts snap judgment and carefully weighed verdict. We'd spent years saying that we'd like to move back, that one day we would move back, that x or y or z would be better over here. But maybe, even though most of me was on board with this whole thing, a tiny bit of my feels left behind, struggling to keep up. And maybe it's possible that this little sliver of me can just stay in 835, occasionally giving me a glimpse of that life through a dream.