VITERBO UNIVERSITY | SPRING 2014 | VOLUME 78

TOUCHSTONE

LITERATURE

DEAR HOUSE OF AMBIGUOUS DREAMS

Lindsay Knudtson

I drove by today, on the way to my mother’s house, and I thought of you

as I sometimes do,

and I smiled

because of that time when I walked in and you smelled of noodles and homemade meatballs, of meatballs and homemade sauce, and I had taken a break from vegetarianism, and I was kind of drunk and I thought you felt like home because the sunlight splayed across your tiled floor. But what kind of home grows no grass?

Dear home of weathered boards with just enough willpower to withstand the weight of an old washing machine and dryer. Dear home of steep steps that always got the better of me once the sky turned ice-grey. I remember once hope pulsed from your vacant interior. And it was December, and it was cold, but it was Wisconsin and you were perfect so I didn’t concern myself with inconsequential matters or muddy footprints. You invited me in, but it was cold, and keeping you warm took all that I had.

I remember your white walls, lonely and exposed, and we knew the importance of not judging a book by its cover so I brought in a small table and I put that book on that table and did what I could to make you beautiful. And you were beautiful, at first, but the world is not constant and everything changes and not all changes are good and some will build you up and some will tear you down. Paint does not heal everything. It just bends the view. We did not know that then, did we?

I am sorry
for pounding all those cold, steal nails into you, for filling you with holes, overcompensating for what was missing and for what was lost. Do you remember the scent of sandalwood and amber? I heard that song by Tracy Chapman today, and I thought of you, and everything smelled of sandalwood and amber, and everything looked peaceful in the candlelight, and everything tasted of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot for a moment. And sometimes when the laughter rose we poured out libations and you soaked it in and we reveled at the life I had created as we tried to clean you up, the life that exchanged sandalwood for soiled diapers and nights made from all-hour tears. And I complained in the summer that you were too hot, but in all my complaining you never shut me out; you never shut anyone out.

I am not sure if I ever told you,
      but you taught me that everyone deserves a second chance,

even if they take that chance and shove it up their ass and it turns out that it was never worth it in the first place, but that’s why it’s called a chance, and that’s why I took it. What else was I supposed to do?

I had almost forgotten that I sold my ring for you; I guess that means I really did believe in second chances, even after all that time, all that money and all that time. So many emotions wadded up in the five dollar bills found deep inside the pockets of winter coats when the seasons rolled around once again. Emotions that I had almost forgotten existed, and his mother pounding on locked doors screaming for a ring that was just as far gone as those bills, spent on countless packs of Kool’s when I could barely manage to keep your lights on, even though I swore I had quit.