The street is familiar – I have been visiting here since a child. It is always bathed in the jeweled peacock tones of eternal twilight. Trees of unimaginable height and beauty throng the neighborhood like sentient centurions they march across the landscape.
The houses are both ancient and modern. A mixture of prehistoric stone work fashioned into mostly modern ranch style homes with the occasional micro Tudor or Victorian studding this family avenue.
For as long as I can remember my street has felt warm and full of life. Foremost is the procession of cheery lampposts defining each household with its amber distinctiveness and the inviting golden radiance springing from innumerable windows; complimenting the eternal dusk of this place. If you stop and listen you can hear the murmur of countless voices behind jaunty doors and the occasional burst of muffled music or laughter. Until last night.
Only a few of the streetlamps were lit and the undying dusk felt more subdued. Most of the homes were darkened yet my feet knew the way. Our lamppost was cheerily calling me home and the largest of the street’s trees, hanging over my home, sent waves of welcome.
The moment my foot hit the porch an ancient grandmother opened the door, exuberant to see me, hugging me like I was the long-lost child that I am. The house inside is much larger than it appears, countless halls, salons and rooms flow into each other like the root system of an ancient tree. The entire place is filled with dark lustrous furniture shaped from wood that never lived in the material world. Every surface is covered in a patchwork of food and drink with a myriad of candles and torches vying for scraps of space – precariously perched on corners and walls.
Soul haunting music fills the air, the kind that burns in your veins reminding you of your divine origins, the sound stars make when they are born. Mingled throughout is the tinkle of children’s laughter full of such joy at being home with a hint of sorrow.
I spy my father in a farther room and my heart sobs. He is orchestrating a game for the younglings; attention riveted by the children and their merrymaking. As he looks up, our eyes connect. I see him, and my heart lives; he is young and hearty like he was before I was born. Tall and thin with strawberry blond hair. His pale halo from our Irish ancestors flaming like a beacon for my weary heart. He smiles yet his eyes are sad for he knows my visit is just that a visit.
A tiny tot of 3 or 4 years of age tugs his pant leg for attention. She is small and sturdy with black-haired ponytails framing cornflower blue eyes. As he lifts her up she shoots me a grin of triumph. I am a bit envious but greatly overjoyed at her victory in being lifted above the other clamoring children. She looks not unlike my younger sister, down to the nose freckles. Is she a miscarried soul of mine, my sisters, my mother’s? Perhaps an ancient cousin or aunt unborn ages ago? I make my way toward my father as the toddler waves for me to hurry and join the game.
I am stopped midway by my direct grandmother. Her blue-black hair and hazel eyes arresting in their beauty. I can see why my grandfather was captivated. There he is by her side; tall and black-eyed with his indigenous good looks. My grandmother is unabashedly selfish and proclaims her unending glee that I have come to visit and that she is ready for me to stay. To which my grandfather reprovingly whispers, “Helen you know better”. She shrugs away his mild rebuke smiling at me like I warm the very sun. I stroke her face – I see the youthful 18-year-old girl newly come to womanhood and the grace of a woman who sits enthroned in her elderly beauty like a cosmic queen all at once and I know am loved.
My grandfather’s eyes twinkle unabashedly with his dark humor. Of everyone there I am sure it is his humor and shape of mind I share in the most (or perhaps his grandmother’s). He and I look at each other and he knows I would stay forever, here in the halls of my ancestors, if I could and the dark thoughts that cross my mind I know have crossed his before. We smile the smile of knowing to each other and my black eyes which are the mirror of his twinkle back.
I wend my way to my father who I had intentionally set out to see when I slipped into slumber. He has no time for me as the little ones claim his attention. I see I will have no time with him. I hear my name whispered and spy the grandmother whose face I bear down a hallway. I go to her, she is young and sprightly dressed in clothing from centuries ago. She smiles unceasingly almost ecstatic that she has found me, holding my hands in hers. It is like looking at my 19-year-old self in a mirror.
I am interrupted by a Junoesque redhead bubbling over with enthusiasm. She is dressed as a flapper wearing a floral print dress and long beads. Her short flaming red hair setting off to perfection the largest pair of emerald green eyes I have ever seen. She shows me to a room that is new to the house and asks how to get the lights on it. Immediately I am fearful in this house of my ancestors. In this place – fire illuminates the twilight shrouded halls of my ancestors; no electricity lives in this world. This room is grey; a shadow of its material self. As I enter I know my time is up and this new room has not yet manifested in this place; it is still a doorway back – – back to the material world. Painfully I awaken, I try to recapture the dreamtime – for I know the way back so well. It is blocked to me now. With great longing I arise, unready for my day…alone.