Flamenco, flamingos, and fantasy

Steven Bridenbaugh

Steven Bridenbaugh
Eureka, California, US
May 18
Commerical Maintenance
As a child, I decided that I would become a nuclear physicist. I dreamed that the prettiest girl in third grade was my secretary, as we rode around in a spaceship. I read all the Hardy Boys mysteries. About that time, my parents started saying that I talked too much. I was sent to a prep school on the East Coast. For me, it was a lonely and sometimes cruel place. It didn't bother me that often. As Barney has said, "Our Imagination is a very good place to be!" In 1985, I remodeled a kitchen, and used the money to buy a bicycle. I trekked to Sun Valley, Idaho, and became a ski bum. I now am somewhat arthritic, and I read a lot of theology books. My soul is decidedly triangular.


JULY 26, 2012 8:56PM

The House Where I Live

Rate: 3 Flag



I'm a builder. Just as the Bible predicted, I built houses for others to live in, not myself. But  in my dreams, I return again and again to the same house.

In the beginning, the house resembled an old farmhouse in the city of Missoula, Montana, where I lived while I went to college. The house had no insulation, an oil burner in the living room as the sole source of heat, plumbing that froze in the wintertime, dreadful cheap paneling covering the crumbling plaster, an ancient kitchen and knob and tube wiring that was barely functional. I dreamt constantly about fixing the place up, but it was too daunting, and expensive, for me to actually do anything. In my dream house, I return to the same place, and actually do something about it.

Unfortunately, the same problems persist. The plumbing becomes monstrously complex, and dangerous, for which only temporary fixes are possible. But I forge ahead with my ambitious remodeling plans, converting the aging Victorian structure into a Wrightian masterpiece of gigantic proportions. Everything surrounding the old structure remains sheathed in plywood. I am forever trying to correct errors in the framing. Whole areas of drywall need to be ripped out, because water is seeping into the walls.

When I was a child, my uncle, a dentist, lived in a very old house in Billings, Montana. One of the features of the house was a closet that opened up into a tiny stairway, which led down into a small basement, which he had excavated himself. In this room he kept a ShopSmith combination power saw, lathe, (and everything else) which he used to do the improvements on his house. In my dream house, there are many doors like this, which lead to other floors, through extremely narrow passages, through which I can only barely manage to squeeze my body. The passages also are a portal into other times and places, including my uncle's house itself, which was a facinating place to visit. It had many delightful artifacts which my uncle collected in Germany, such as miniature violins made by apprentices to the luthier's craft. In my dream, I partake of meals there, eating Schnicken Im House, followed by an aetherial Eiswein and endless mirth.

The basement periodically floods, and large endangered reptiles move in to reproduce. They have beautiful blue eyes. They will not eat anything I try to feed them, so I  relocate them to swamps nearby before they all die.

One of the features of my house is its cavernous garage, in which I make Scandinavian cabinets, sailing yachts, and other hopelessly expensive projects. Actually, it is a complex of garages, each containing more junk which needs to be organized, more tools which I had misplaced and have rediscovered, and several cars which have broken down, each loaded with all kinds of valuable tools which I need to lock up somewhere else.  I am not bothered by any thieves in my dream, yet I constantly worry that my stuff will get stolen.

The landscaping around the house is a complete mess. There are dying elms, which contain pockets of water, full of horrible worms. Old orchards litter the ground with fruit which I don't have the time to harvest. There is a well  I have to board up constantly, to prevent small children from falling into. At the same time, I build an elaborate Victorian greenhouse, with ornamental ironwork everywhere, in which my heirloom vegetables  flourish. My kitchen becomes a soup kitchen, where I create huge stockpots full of borcht and other vegetable stews.

As I grew older, my house became the nexus for a hippy colony for seniors. I have leased land from an Indian Reservation, and with them I operate a dairy farm. The manure from the cows provides methane which I burn to create electrical power for the seniors, who come to my house to live for free. All the work is done by homeless people. They are so grateful to have a place to live, that they work tirelessly, like Schmoos, and keep everything working like clockwork. Stone patios extend everywhere, gently shaded by a canopy of trees carefully pruned to form a green ceiling, and large urns filled with fragrant flowers are everywhere. Old people wheel around in this Eden, and the health officials from the State are powerless to shut it all down.

For the homeless, I build a Stonehenge, from gigantic topiary structures instead of standing stones. I build geodesic spaceframes to protect large areas from the weather, and collect rainwater for gardens. A large firepit is the site of huge bonfires, where young and old gather and sing in the evenings.

When I wake up, I also own a house, now. Like the dream house, it has many problems begging for my attention. I fill notebooks full of ideas for improving my domus, which at present is quite humble. Some things I can do right away, and some things will have to wait. But, I must say, I couldn't be happier.


Open call, Fiction Weekend :  Write a story that's set in a place you've never been to. 

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Getting some old houses back into shape is a dream indeed. I feel you on the "correct errors in the framing"; few things in an old house are square anymore.
This seems like a particularly "Eurekan" dream somehow, between the Victorians, subterranean flooding, dairies, hippies, leasing land from the Reservation...
Love the thought of a complex of garages and passages of time/place travel. : )
I really loved your vivid descriptions - especially the idea of the small doors leading to other times. Something about the way you phrased it really moved me.