Two nights ago, after I met with my neighbour up north and agreed to buy his small lot next to mine to have a place to grow apple trees, Marc and I made a huge fire and drank a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.
We had spent the day pulling up floorboards and pulling down ceiling insulation to find rot, seal up holes, and evict generations of big-eared, big-eyed country mice. Shit rained down on us as we faced some of my worst home-owner fears, and we laughed and it was ok. In the end we were filthy and triumphant, and we had a lot of rotten wood to burn.
Turns out owning a house, especially in the woods, is a constant conversation with the elements – with the wildlife that want in, or that want your heat and food stores, or that want some of the space you take up.
We are in their world out there, so we try to be polite about it.
I had a garbage bag of dried herbs to burn, and Marc had a huge, ugly coffee table he wanted gone from the earth and so we made a kind of funeral pyre, melting the early snow.
The herbs were from my city garden where the thyme and lemon balm are always trying to take over.
An ex-boyfriend and I had twisted them into bundles which had filled my kitchen ceiling and given my satisfying witch feelings, until they hung up there for too long; long after it all went boom and bust and devolved into nightmares. They felt thick with bad dreams and spider webs. They burned quick and smelled like better summers to come.
Marc and I burned them in fistfuls, and made up prayers to the house-and-mouse-gods, and we cheers’ed to the fire in gratitude for finally finding each other.
And Jupiter and Venus hung out in the sky together.
At night, I dreamed a violent dream of moving that same ex-boyfriend and all his rotten bullshit out of my house and life. I wish I wasn’t still dealing with the bad vibes he left now that I am free and happy, but I am and so it goes.
In the dream I ripped his record player from the wall while it was playing and it howled white noise that matched my fury. I yelled the truth and other women heard me and helped me. They nodded while I broke his face.
Punching and yelling is out of character for me, but I have to say, dream-me quite enjoyed it.
My dreams on this theme have definitely been getting better. I used to dream that he was in the house and I’d wake up screaming. Then I had dreams that I was face to face with him and I couldn’t say anything.
But last night’s dream ended with me spinning in the air like a circus artist while I told the true story. Almost like I was lifted up on smoke.
If you are haunted by the ghosts of abusive or otherwise bad men – or the many kinds of psychological violence wrought by patriarchy – I highly recommend a made up ritual, and a cleansing garbage fire.