i have foundational memories, which are, in fact, real memories. i also have memories of dreams that are absolutely dreams. the difficulty came when my dreams would incorporate something that i interacted with everyday into my sleep-world.
the first five years of my life were in a small house, five feet from the next, on lowell street, right outside chicago. it was a predominantly jewish neighborhood, with koreans to our right, japanese & indians across the street. we were not unfamiliar with the diversity that cities bring. that home could easily fill up a couple novels with memories, and i remember almost everything, although everything is a little bigger, and more adventurous, considering that it would be from the perspective of a five year old.
when i was three-ish my siblings told me that my parents buried my cat, Amber, alive. to this day, i still have dreams about Amber pawing his way out of the grave in the back ally. it took me 10 years to realize that they had been lying to me the entire time (which, if you ask them, they'll tell you they would never do such a thing.... but older siblings always pick on the baby).
in the upstairs of the house there was a row of framed artwork. we each got our own frame (of our current or best work) and there were a few other framed images. one of which i assumed my dad had painted. it traveled with me, in my dreams, appearing in different places throughout the years. always imagining or believing that if i could just catch the reflection, on the glass of that painting, at just the right angle, i'd be able to cross through it and enter into a completely different world. now i find myself wishing that i could do just that.
(had i been able to read when i was 3 i would have seen that it is not my dad's signature)
i had been confused at the actual existence of this painting. mainly because it had been so prevalent in my dreams. i was unsure if it were foundation or fictional. this past christmas my dad brought that painting to me (amongst other things). turns out, it wasn't his painting. he had gone to Art Center with Tom Christopher (painter, new york) who painted it for my dad as a present. it has been cherished for the past two decades, became my favorite piece of art, and now lives in my bedroom where the light hits it just right to make me believe i can waltz right through it to a different world.
my apologies about the images, it was the first thing i saw this morning, and the reflection was just right. i had to use my phone.... i know better too.
ps. tom christopher is a genius