Wednesday, January 11, 2012
A HOUSE THAT NEVER SLEEPS
Last night I dreamed that the covers were falling off me, but when I woke up I was all bundled up under quilts. I could hear voices. A one sided conversation floated up the stairs from somewhere down below. I wondered if my sons were still up chatting with their friends. In summer I sometimes have to open the window and tell them to keep it down. But it’s cold outside on these January nights and when I looked out of the back window onto the darkened garden, I saw nothing. It was three in the morning. I slipped on a robe and tiptoed downstairs, and saw the light shining round Elliot’s closed door. Animated conversation came from within. Who was he with and what were they talking about?
I soon realized he was chatting to someone on Skype. Probably a friend in a different time zone – someone in Italy, no doubt. I pressed my ear to his door and caught a few words – "The film Un Chien Andalou… it’s an early surrealist film by Luis Bunuel and Marcel Du Champ… yeah, that’s what I mean about the director’s vision… Exactly~ It begins with someone’s eyeball being sliced? Right– that’s the one….”
And so on.
A seminar in the history of film at 3 o clock in the morning, delivered with such animation! I smiled, tiptoed back upstairs, and tucked next to Ben under the covers.
I was encouraged and touched by what I had heard. Oh, Chien Andalou – Dadaists, and Surrealists~ How well I remember my own infatuation with you, how I saw the film for the very first time before a Jethro Tull Concert at Boston Garden! What an impression was made by Andre Breton, and The Exquisite Corpse – and those surrealist games! I remembered my college aged self –energized by deep conversations that went on into the night. Those were conversations we lived for – exploring subjects new to us, artists we wanted to identify with, to learn about and experience.
Once, talking into the night with a boyfriend about theatre, art and film, downstairs in my parent’s house in Hingham, I remember hearing the morning rituals of my own father upstairs: Feet pattering, doors opening, the sound of running water and his electric razor. He was getting up for a new day at the office, and meanwhile our minds were still running fast and bouncing off each other.
I remember feeling sad for my father. Thought he didn’t have a life. Now I understand that he had a life, all right, with occupation and impetus, a household to maintain, and a meaningful job to do. But maybe he knew I was a daughter after his own heart. He had once been a drama student at RADA, then a young actor – so he must have had the same kinds of conversations. Just as Elliot, a drama student, is a boy after my (and his) own heart!
At about 6 am, Ben got up. Followed by our dachshund Basil. He went downstairs, put on the coffee, and read the Washington Post. Then he went on his run. I came downstairs, pottered around, got a cup of coffee – went back up to listen to NPR’s Morning Edition, check my email, and to get ready for work. Meanwhile our boys slumbered on behind closed doors.
In the early hours of January, while things outside are hibernating, ours has become a house that never sleeps. I wouldn’t want it to be like this all of the time. The house might become too ragged and dissolute. Also sleep is sweet and necessary, even for a house.
But how quiet it will be next week when Elliot returns to college. After that, towards the end of February, Alex will leave us to take a job in Australia. Then the house will be more sedate –tucked in and sleepy at night time. Peaceful yes, but not so full of character and promise.