Written By: Maribel  Danta

I have a recurring dream where I am forced to move out of my home, the one I have tended to for the past 17 years on the east end of Long Island. My husband wants to live in another house, an obscure area far from a shoreline. He argues he has grown tired of the familiar ways of the one we own. Drained from battles with family health needs, I succumb to his pleas knowing full well in offering this type of support, I sacrifice what is left of my self. Begrudgingly, I collect my 3 boys and my parents, and drive them to the new house. From the uneven cobbled driveway I strain my eyes trying to see what the blurred house looks like. My family marvels at its architecture. To one child it appears “colonial”, to another it’s a mansion, to my parents it’s like a Tuscan Villa, but it remains unclear to me, foreign, unwelcoming. Everyone’s comfortable, opening and closing windows and doors, selecting rooms. I am not able to open most doors, not one window gives to my pull. In my frenzy of not being able to gain entry to most rooms of the house, not understanding completely the reason behind the move, missing my old home terribly, panic completely overtakes me when I realize my dogs were left behind. They are alone with no food or water. They could be dead and it would be entirely my fault. The guilt of not making sure that they were safe with me becomes too much for me to bear. It is at this point in my dream that I always awaken. The knot in my chest achingly real, heart racing, steady streams of tears round my face, pooling onto my pillow. I am relieved that it’s only a dream. I exhale gratitude for the deep breaths of sleep that resound against our walls. My closest friend had come to visit us when I had this dream again. Over breakfast as I recanted the details of it, she began to look things up on the internet. Dreams about houses often symbolize your soul, your self. The different interpretations come in the form of how that house manifests itself in the dream. The foundation of my dreamed house is built on tectonic plates and fault lines of transitions. As she continued to break down the dream, my oldest son, Will, hunched into his 6’2” frame, his long rock star hair swaying across his face, saunters into the kitchen looking for something to eat. In two days we will be driving up to Dartmouth to visit the campus. In September he will begin his Senior year of high school. By November all applications to college have to be prepared, by March we would have some idea of what school he’ll attend. On a timeline, requirements and deadlines for life milestones are organized, orderly and proficient, but in real time, my emotions, messy, confused, overwhelmed, betrayed by time, its lines and cursive loops, bleeds thick through every boundary and border established. A sky full of guilt shines with all the things I wanted to do with him before he grew up. I am left undone. The realization that history repeats itself but time doesn’t is sobering. I can’t get those tender years back. God what I would do to throw the tantrum to end all tantrums, but instead I have to handle this milestone with a grace I am not even going to pretend I own. I will have to borrow it from somewhere, suck it up and hope it fits, making it work diva style, ala Cher. Like Cher, we are on tour. We creatively dubbed this, the “College Tour” summer. If I could actually choreograph our tour like hers, it would be in a Bob Mackie costume complete with beaded head gear, have “If I Could Turn Back Time” as my background music, twinkling neon lights, fabulous drag queen backup dancers and with the spinning of a glittery disco ball, actually turn time back. Yes, perhaps it would make it easier for me to handle, but definitely not for anyone else. They are not amused by the way I choose to self soothe. In my ambiguously dreamed house of transitions, Will’s door is always firmly locked. Making Will some bacon and eggs, my other two boys rush in. Gabe and Carlos will be Freshmen in High School. My young ones are no longer so young. Gabe, my middle child, towers over me. “I want bacon, is the yeast gone yet?” “Yes to bacon, no to the yeast”. The yeast, oh beast that is the intestinal yeast. At two years of age my typically developing child regressed into a world of Autism and Adhd, which included sensory processing disorders, a leaky gut, severe food allergies and the loss of almost every developmental milestone. Our calendars marked the day he gained a milestone, followed by the day he lost it. Our lives became both an acronym and a fight to reconnect him with us. A month shy of turning 15, I’m now focused on what my son’s transitional plan should include in order for him to attain the soft foundational skills he will need in order to build a life for himself after he no longer is a part of the school system. Independence is a culmination of many learned and mastered skills. Advocating for his medical rights, his educational rights and his societal rights rival having to deal with and explain rites of passages, life cycles, social etiquettes, puberty and its effects, childhood being its ultimate casualty. While Carlos looks for every opportunity to grow up, Gabe wants no part of it. Gabe’s game plan is stay a kid and be immortal. When asked what he wants to do with his life, his answer simply put, is “not die”. Simplicity is never simple. It relies on a complex system working at its peak in synchronicity, something I find impossible to master. Nothing in my house is in sync, especially our brains. Seventeen years ago I exchanged pigeons for seagulls and a skyline for a shoreline. The first thing I noticed about living so close to the coast was how the smell of salted ocean water made it’s way to my front porch in the early morning. Like lavender, it soothes instantly. There is a path close by that I take my kids for walks on. It’s over a mile’s worth of a trail through a very wooden area, encased by unbelievably tall trees that allow peeks of blue to pour through its greens. The scent of Honeysuckle mixed with sea permeates the air. There are occasional sightings of deer gently trekking through leaves and fallen branches. As you get near the end of the walk, the glimpse of the horizon opens to the dunes, sand and the bay. Unlike the beach where the distance between boardwalk, sand and ocean is wide, here space is sparse, at high tide it’s like walking on a tightrope, heel to toe. Like the beach, the bay offers a deep feeling of tranquility. Heart beat slows to the pulse of the lapping of waves to shore. Curled on a bench that memorializes the life of a beautifully loved child, I think about my sons, my husband, my father, and mostly, my mother. My brilliant mother has Alzheimer’s. She is regressing at a pace I struggle to emotionally keep up with. Though she lives with me and I am with her, I miss her. I miss her insight, her nurturing, her responses and her support deeply. I know she is keenly attuned to what is happening to her. In her moments of disorientation and confusion, I see her frustration and fight. My foundation is slipping. Those fault lines and tectonic plates, those plaques and tangles, mother earth quakes as life skills, life lessons, life lived and loved shakes, falls, shatters and drifts away. On this particular path there are no real crossroads. The duality of learning to let go exists in the realm of hope’s optimism and the reality of our finite limitations, making one far easier to seek peace with than the other, eventually all roads merge to one. These transitional roles, stages, moments, they evolve and define who we are in a very brief moment of time. The haunting recurring nightmare of an unrecognizable house I cannot gain access into, the unintentional abandoning of lives I love, the real guilt of not having been able to have parented the way I would have imagined, the future I fear my son might be cheated of, the possibilities and potential to be met, the absolute love given, all found in a horizon that opens up to the dunes and the sand and the bay. The waves skim over glistening beach glass, shells and pebbles, evidence of time and timelines. I messy, confused and overwhelmed, continue to bleed through its borders and boundaries, onto its seas.