by Jeanne Marie
I dreamt of the farm-house again last night.
When I saw the numbers match the numbers on the ticket in my hand at the end of the 10:00 o’clock news, when I learned that I’d won the lottery, before I even had the money in my hand, I threw my cigarettes, a tooth-brush and my Master Card into my purse. I ran out to the driveway, tore open the door of my blindingly yellow Dodge Hemi truck, turned the key, felt the thunder as the engine roared to life and flew out of the driveway.
I sped to the Tulsa airport, disregarding the speed limit because I was rich now. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t thinking that money made me above the law, but I could definitely afford to pay a speeding ticket.
I parked the truck in the long-term parking lot, ran inside the terminal to the first counter I saw and walked away with a ticket for American Airlines Flight 144 to Boston. After a take-forever walk through security, I raced down the chintzy red carpet, catching the flight attendant’s attention just before he shut the door.
I was going home. My husband always told me that it wasn’t home anymore, that home was where we lived, in our 1986 trailer home set on two acres of Heaven in Owasso, Oklahoma.
I always said, “You’re right, honey.”
But he wasn’t.
As the many plaques will tell you, home is where your heart is and I had left mine on the cold, wet sand of Plum Island, nesting in the sand dunes I had crawled on before I could walk and then when I was older, I’d left more of me on the hot, sandy beaches of Hampton and Salisbury. The last pieces I can remember seeing were hidden in the tunnels behind the walls of the farm-house, the tunnels where I had hidden my baby sister, playing quietly with her on the dusty floor so dad wouldn’t find us or hiding with Mom when the bill collectors pounded on our door.
When the wheels came down as we flew over the water of Revere Beach, I held my breath. I didn’t breathe again until the plane’s wheels touched the runway. As the familiar seat belt ding sounded, everyone rushed to their feet. I grabbed my purse and I pushed along with the crowd of people who also wanted off the plane, now. I headed straight for the Avis counter and rented a luxury car with no idea of where I wanted to go or why I had flown eighteen hundred miles on the very day the lottery had blessed (or cursed) my life. All I knew for sure was that I was going to kidnap my Mom out of the nursing home and she was coming with me for one wild ride.
The car almost drove it self as I left the Avis parking lot. I think that the auto pilot of my soul was driving. I sped along Route 93 with my feet driving and my heart dancing. Suddenly, I knew where I was going! My urges were taking me back to the farm-house on High Street, to the house that my dad had bought for $8,000.00 only to give it back to the bank several years later.
So many times, I had dreamed of that familiar front door opening to me. The present owner would throw open the solid white, wooden door with red trim, welcoming me home. The dream varied, probably depending on what I ate before I fell asleep. Sometimes a woman, sometimes a man, but the answerer always allowed me to wander down the hallowed halls of my dysfunctional, childhood home. Well, one of many, but the first real house with walls, doors and a roof the rain didn’t ping off. The farm-house that I’d been forced to leave behind when I was still a girl.
In my memories, the curtains that my mom had sewn on her push pedal Singer sewing machine still hung in the living room windows. I remembered the day she’d made them. I remembered the scent of the hot, damp cotton as she’d ironed each panel and hung it. I remembered the look of pride on her face as she stood back and smiled at what she had created.
I’d left a shard of me behind when I’d left that farm-house while taking a fragment from the walls. A sharp; yet, comforting splinter and it was still tucked away safely inside my heart’s vault. A splinter that led me home, if only in my dreams, over and over. Somehow the wood and the mortar had become entwined with my soul, an intrinsic puzzle I could not solve. Finally, I could buy that now declared historic house, no matter the cost. Panic pulsed through my veins and I asked myself, what am I doing? Did I think that I could move back to the farm-house and did I think that I could start my life over again? I guess so because I had dreams when my mind went back there, so I figured my body could too.
If I went back to there, could I go back to then and start my life over and change my now? Could I hide in the secret tunnels and let time remove the stains and the hurts I had gathered in the years since I had left? These were the questions searing my brain as I drove toward Billerica, doing forty miles over the speed limit.
I had to buy the farm-house before I went to get Mom. Money could bring my mom back to her house, the house she’d lost so long ago.
I dreamt of the farm-house again last night.
Jeanne Marie, 2010