Header image by Wikimedia Commons user Dexter Raymaker under Creative Commons 3.0.
Sometimes in my dreams I get lost in my own hometown. New streets appear, old streets loop back to new streets and buildings gain additional floors.
One town over does this a lot. I never know this town much to begin with. I would be making my way to wherever I wanted to go, a friend’s house perhaps, and finding my way there would be impossible. I would find a new street and try to correct course, only to lose myself along a new network of further streets; the streets have always felt strange at night, but never like this. I’ve also seen that town after the end. People I know living in houses they moved out of – in far worse condition than the house had been in the first place, literally nightmarish places I couldn’t stay in for long without finding myself poisoned.
My hometown has restructured and rearranged itself far more than any other place I’ve known. Sometimes just around the corner, where I haven’t walked for years, has been the mouth of a river leading to the ocean, water levels far higher than the river I know in real life. There’s always something new around the corner if I just look. Sometimes it’s where nightmares hide, but cautious is not something I do a lot in my dreams. I took a tour in that skyscraper; most of the floors were barren with perhaps a desk here or there and the floor did not yet have any carpets. I could literally see the rest of my hometown from the top of the tower – like all floors, the top floor has floor-to-ceiling glass windows on all four sides.
On other times, the river would burst its banks and I’d follow it to find areas I never knew existed, floating wooden platforms leading to embedded buildings and beyond to enclosed mountain ranges. But as with everywhere else, the streets themselves rearranged too. I’d sometimes choose to walk down these streets myself if not only for the point of exploration (sometimes they’d stretch into infinity and I’d have to take another road.) I’ve found whole shopping centres this way down new streets. During dreams taking me far from home, I’d always be happy to see my hometown after a long journey home. Some things never change.
Or perhaps I’d find myself in a place I’d only been to once in my life, reimagined and rearranged for my pleasure. Buildings would rise towards the clouds, even ordinary buildings such as shops. I’ve even celebrated imaginary New Year’s Days in places such as this, talking to people I no longer remember. But as much as my mind tries to make home seem different, and no matter how much I really grow to dislike my hometown, it’ll always be familiar to me.