Dreaming of home

Illustration by Richard Tuschman
Illustration by Richard Tuschman

The New York Times ran an interesting article yesterday about the current prevalence of dreams about homes. The article, “The House of Your Dreams”, claimed that “Americans aren’t just living the real estate collapse. They’re dreaming it,” quoting psychologists who have seen a spike in patients recounting stressful dreams relating to the idea of home – often homelessness itself, which the article describes as “one of the most primal feelings on the emotional spectrum”.

It has long bothered me that I tend not to remember my dreams. In the first few years after my husband John passed away in late 2004, I was disappointed that there were so few occasions on which I remembered dreaming about him, or about the two of us together. Neither did I dream of the house we lived in, either when I lived in it alone, renovating it like a woman possessed, or later, when I had moved to New York and was writing a book  about John and the house and my various sorts of renovation after losing him to cancer. In hindsight, I wonder if there were so few dreams because most of my waking moments were full of thoughts about him. Writing the book took so much out of me that perhaps my unconscious decided to give me a break while I slept.

Recently I was encouraged to begin keeping a dream journal, and while it is proving a difficult habit to form, I have been struck by the number of times that homes of various kinds appear in my dreaming life. So far, I have not dreamed of the house I so thoroughly chronicled in my book, but I have been a visitor or temporary resident of many different types of houses – warm, cosy places; cavernous rooms with huge windows looking on to lush gardens; hard-edged concrete-and-steel apartments; and even a home with an indoor pool that took up the entirety of the top floor. What it all means I haven’t a clue, but if this article is anything to go by, dreams of home have “an especially powerful place in the psyche … symbolizing safety, comfort, identity and – to the Freudians – mother.” If that’s the case, perhaps my dreams of many homes reflect my rather nomadic existence in recent times.

Is anyone else dreaming a lot about home at the moment?

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