My family has bought back my childhood home. I’m puzzled to discover that several small things that I left behind are still in place. For the entire time they lived here, the former owners took care of my plant wall (which is actually the back window of my current home). Everything has been kept in place, and the plants are still healthy. It’s been 16 years!
Other things are sadly missing. Much of the backyard has been cleared down because of the sale. There’s no sign of the cactus garden, the row of agaves by the side-yard, anything near the sheltered window of my teenage bedroom. All over, there’s a lingering tinge of The Other, those unseen people who lived here for years. The property feels hollowed-out, barren, despite all the uncannily familiar landscaping and fences and everything else.
I run along the top edge of the back brick wall as fast as I can. The wall isn’t as narrow as it felt when I was a kid — there’s an odd mixture of delight and melancholy, as I consider how I never thought I’d be able to do this again. How I can do it as many times as I want now.
Near the furthest corner of the wall I survey the horizon of the desert valley. In the distance there’s an area I can clearly make out a strange red cloud. I indicate it to one of my companions, wondering if it’s a concern — I’m told it’s just a high amount of large particulates, suspended dust from desert winds.
As I’m going through inspecting rooms I come to the garage. I’m sure it only used to hold three cars, but the darkened empty space appears to have at least four spaces. Little bits of random ephemera can be found across seemingly every surface; I wonder what else changed. Near the water heater I find a funnel attached to a tube. It’s attached to a small device making a high-pitched noise — I guess it must be for controlling roaches. (I’ve never lived in a place that had roaches, that I know of.)
Outside, the air is clear and oppressive. Although I grew up around here, I sense that I’ll need a period of adjustment where I can get used to these environs again. Everything has changed and grown different than what it was, but I still remember how it used to be. Myself, too — my adult senses perceive the world differently than I once did. I know I have to get to work soon. At high noon, I feel like an alien on a strange planet.
An isolated snippet, perhaps from a separate dream: soft plush shelving at the base of a stairway in a little room at the bottom of the stairwell. In it are kept pet rodents, or perhaps more likely material for their keeping. All stacked within. Very reminiscent of a weird meme I saw recently, of plush shelving.
Departing much later, I locate a three-piece visor — curved plastic semi-circles joined together at the temples. It takes some adjusting but I figure out how to wear it below my chin and above the crown of my head, with a light-up box close over my eyes. This obscures them like some cyborg ninja from a video game, one I can’t place correctly.
A mysterious final sentence, left over from notes and not reviewed in time to make sense of it: “Discovering receipt inside book which proves it was the same guy.”