Sunday, September 18, 2005

Stairways and Little White Dogs

September 18,2005

Sigmund Freud liked to think that the organic sensation of anxiety occurred when the child's body was squeezed through the birth canal on its way to being born,ever after experiencing moments of anxiety as a reference to that peculiar,breathless sensation.
I cannot say if this is true but I know that emotions--can we call them sensations--which occur for the first time in the most ridiculous of settings remain forever associated with those settings.
When I was a small child our family lived on the second floor of a house which was a kind of four-plex with two apartments up and two down and a stairway in the center from the street. I remember every detail of that stairway,every scratch on the wall but I remember nothing of the apartment. Go figure!
At the back of the house there was another stairway which led down to the yard. This stairway was on the outside of the building but it was covered in the manner of covered bridges that you see in New England towns. In the center of the stairs there was a diamond shaped window which looked out into the yard. All of my life I've dreamt of that stairway; it has always represented something gloomy and foreboding in the catalog of my emotions,the kind of feeling which can never be explained but only .........embodied. Go figure!
In order to reach the street from this back stairway one had to walk along the driveway at the side of the house. At the end of the driveway there was a depression which filled with water whenever it rained, creating an impassable puddle. The only way to get by this puddle was to negotiate a narrow tuft of grass which required one to squeeze along the chain link fence that separated the two yards.
In the yard next door there was a little white dog which charged out at you suddenly whenever you were walking on the driveway. This dog had a nasty temperament and a ferocious manner and never failed to take me by surprise. Whenever I would need to circumvent the puddle he would appear in a rage and try to nip me through the chain links. As a child I lived in terror of this dog.
All of my life I've dreamed about that dog. He has come to represent some nameless, anticipated terror in my life which I have never been able to shake.He comes to me from time to time in my nightmares and is never far removed from my uncertainties. Go figure!


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