The instructions were simple. Describe—
My Ideal Dwelling:
Here is where I would not want to live: in a dark narrow tunnel or cave with small windows and doors, the kind you get stuck in in dreams. I would not want to live in a desert or on the side of a very tall mountain, as in the alps. I would not want to live on a distant island or in a place with broadloom wall to wall. I would not want to live where the inside smelled unfresh, stale, dog-like.
I’m on a beach and in the distance a boat has dropped anchor and with binoculars I see the skipper, alone, eating a sandwich made of pumpernickel bread. I sit on the sand and the tide comes in as the boat leaves and then, jeans sandy and feet wet, I stand and leave to find the nearest deli and on my way there is a dog.
No, it’s not a dog, but a bear. I meet a bear. Black. And as usual I can’t remember whether to play dead or run so I decide to do neither. Instead, I engage the bear in conversation. I say Hello. And the bear grunts, shuffles its feet. I say about the boat and the skipper and how I’m off to find a deli and would he or she like to come along? It’s a she I realize and when she agrees I think how safe I feel to have the company of a friendly bear because for all I know the deli may be in a dicey part of town.
At the river the bear wades across and then turns and stands on its hind legs and one paw reaches out toward me. I start swimming and the bear smiles and I notice that the river isn’t so very deep and this makes me feel at ease with the whole situation. Once on the other side the bear walks through a forest of aspens and into a town and I follow.
On the ground, red and chipped and stained with tea and blueberries.
Also on the ground. Under a clear plastic bag held down with a rock. I pick it up and wait for it to speak to me, to tell me what it unlocks. The bear, I notice, has found the deli, but the sign in the window says closed. Hmm….
The key opens the door but inside is another door that says Keep Out. An elk kicks it down and inside that, a storage area where a party is being held. There are balloons and raccoon food. The walls are apple green and a guy—the guy from the boat—is there slicing bologna and rye and a line begins to form…
Written in Susan Musgrave’s workshop at the Kingston Lit Festival last month.
The prompts were given one at a time, with a few minutes for writing, then the next prompt, and so on. According to Jung, done this way, each item represents
a different aspect.
House = how we see ourselves
The Walk = direction in life
The Bear = how you react to trouble
The River = sex
The Cup = love
The Key = knowledge
The Door = death