Last night, I dreamed I was sitting in my mother’s chair. The one in which she sat during the day and drank her coffee and smoked her cigarettes. The wooden chair at the kitchen table where she could look out the window at the goings on of the neighbourhood. I dreamed I was sitting in that chair, seeing from her eyes.
It was an odd dream. I remember the kitchen well. Small with a cube freezer sitting in the corner by the wall telephone. She would put knick-knacks on top for a bit of decoration. The table sat in the centre of the window and the refrigerator and stove sat to the left, the sink and counter across from the appliances. It was small but big enough.
I had lived there all my life. The little townhouse in the back of the row of townhouses, hidden from plain view of the parking lot. The window sat facing a brick wall from the adjacent row, but if she sat diagonally to the window, she could see up the small sidewalk. She could see who was walking towards our door as we were the last row house on the end. One couldn’t go any further. There was a fence that blocked foot traffic from treading past our place to the side of our townhouse where there was a green space. It led to another parking area for the duplex units situated there. That’s where we would play tag and red rover until well after dark.
The dream was as dreams usually go. Brief, milky and hauntingly real. I was sitting in the chair, looking out the window at the grey sky. I could see the parking lot and the cars idly parked. I looked around the empty kitchen and remember seeing the small curtains on the window. At one point I got up and went to the sink. There was water in it with dishes floating around waiting to be washed. Instead of getting at them, I just looked and decided to go back and sit in the chair. Even dreaming, I’m too lazy to do up a few dishes.
It was unsettling sitting in my mother’s chair. She’s been gone eight years now and I can still hear her in my ear. Especially when I’m talking to one of my not-so-much-a-kid-anymore kids. Funny how now, I go back to that old town house to look out the window. I sit at the old kitchen table in the precarious wooden chair. I see what she may have seen. A neighbourhood full of families and children. Green grass in the summer with her marigolds sprouting from the garden. The old fence a good backdrop for her tomatoes and morning glories. The sprinklers spraying in the searing summer sun. The lamp post on the corner beaten by hands of kids using it as a base for hide and seek. I wonder what she may have thought as she sat drinking her coffee and smoking her cigarettes. Would she have thought we would have made it out into the big bad world to have kids of our own and sit in chairs that belong to us? Would we be sitting drinking our coffee looking out at our neighbourhoods wishing the same for our kids?
Maybe. My life is very different than my mother’s. My chair is a little sturdier and my behind a little larger (hence the sturdier chair), but I think we share the same hope for our children; that they will have a chair in which to sit, a cup to drink their coffee and a window for which to look out at their neighbourhoods to hear the children, see the flowers and wonder about the future.