Friday, November 7, 2014

1343 North, Dreamland USA (Personal Essay Draft 2)

*Revision Plan: From the feedback from the comments online, as well as from Dr. Burton, the memories of the childhood home are very relatable and very penetrable—something most people can connect to. Peers appreciated some of the detail, and I hoped to amplify that somewhat in this revision. I specifically aimed to create a more concrete, viewable characteristic of my home other than “bumpy tan walls”. Another aspect of change is my focus on my dreams and how it could be related to Lehi’s dream. I also have more of a focus on characters rather than just setting.

I see it all in a blur. The cherry floors, the white stone fireplace, and the honey-caramel cabinets all are there as I spin around in a circle of correctness. I’m here; I’m finally home. As I spin, the joy I’m feeling seems to build and spread like sunrays that reach through the whole house. My husband is here, my family is here, and nothing is going wrong this time. It’s just bliss.

But all too suddenly, my spinning gets interrupted as I bump into the oval mahogany table—the one that my mom just simply adores. The spinning stops, the rays of joy seem to grow dimmer. I don’t feel any pain, why did I really stop?

My dream suddenly comes to an end as my body wakes to hear my little boy stir in the room nearby. It’s almost time to start the day. 1343 North will have to wait. I roll over onto my back knowing I have a few minutes to try to wake up a little bit more before grabbing the babe. I look up. The dark ceiling knows my amazement. I’ve had this dream before, or at least ones similar. My dreams all seem to take place in my childhood home. I haven’t lived in that home for 8 years or more. I have lived in another family home, plenty of apartments, and now I am in my second home with my husband. But I always come back to 1343; my subconscious even seems to know that this place will always be home.

I continue to lie there; not wanting to give up on the content feeling the dream has stirred within me. I wish to go back and be in the warm embrace. I want life to be simpler—to be perfect again. I think of how life really was, or at least the good parts of life I will never forget. I’m sitting on the couch in the living room, the floral pattern with vines twisting and turning around me to pull me in and hug me in a soft embrace. I lean my head back to see my mom in the kitchen as we talk. I rest from a long day of school as she hurries to make dinner for the family. It hadn’t even been 12 hours since we all sat on this same couch as a family early in the morning reading scriptures and kneeling to pray before we all left for the day. The couches are different now without my family, without…that extra feeling of happiness. But the smell of family still lingers in the fabric. And the happiness lingers too in the walls of this home.

Little tears start in the next room. I have to get up. I go throughout my day, but always pausing to daydream about the smell of my mom’s gingersnaps fresh out of the oven. She would surprise me and make them—just to make my day better. They always tasted the same. It didn’t matter if she made them on the cool red linoleum countertops that spread up the wall, or if she made them years later when the counters were replaced with a tan-ish linoleum that tried to look like marble with the different colored swirls and lines cutting through. She had the time then. Now she barely has time to sit down and relax. She often will just fall asleep on Sunday evenings when we go to visit—even in the middle of one of her own sentences. She helps my dad run the family business now. They do very well, but they put in the time. There is always something to do when you own your own business. And besides running the business, she runs the family gatherings too. Making big family dinners (the immediate family is about 27 people now), taking us birthday or Christmas shopping. Going to games, visits, reunions, she is always there 100% for family. Her hard work and dedication always accompanied by love has made for a great homemaker, mother, and friend.

I think back to 1343, and the carpet on the stairs. It was worn from people walking, running, and occasionally sliding down the stairs in sleeping bags—not to mention the wear from the bowling ball that took a ride down the stairs when my little brother wanted a little bit more attention… But then I think again how that worn carpet was home for Barbie, Ken and Kelly. My sister Mary and I would play Barbie’s on the stairs all day, day after day. No one seemed to mind, we were never in anyone’s way. At least that’s how I remember it. Life really did seem to be perfect looking back at it. We had all we needed, and even all we wanted.

We moved when my brother Jake was on his mission in Brazil. My dad built my mom her dream home just about a mile north. Our family grows closer by reflecting on these somewhat perfect memories together. We all seem to have this same sense on nostalgia for this home—especially Jake. I wonder if it was because he didn’t get the same goodbye that we all got, or if his childhood was better than mine—but he is connected to that house, to the memories. He’s going to buy it someday; it’s already planned, the owner now (a family friend) has already been talked to. We really can’t seem to let go of 1343.

I am unable to disentangle myself from it. It built me, it shaped me, and it was who I was for a long time. Was this how Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, and Sam felt just a little as they left their childhood home in Jerusalem? When their father Lehi dreamed of the great and spacious building—was it a place he had seen before? Was the dream of the tree of life similar to the apricot tree I had in my backyard that was full of memories of climbing and eating popsicles in it with my siblings? Was his dream influenced even more by his family, and by his experiences in his home?

Going back now to visit 1343 is a different place with others living there, I feel like an intruder, an outsider to those sacred walls. But going back to 1343 in my dreams, it’s still mine—it’s still home.

-Lizzy S.


  1. I like how you start your essay this time as an adult looking back on your childhood home, fully realizing its great impact on your life. The element of nostalgia in your writing is very relatable and your description (such as the "floral pattern") made the scene feel real. Your connection to Lehi's vision is cool but maybe would be more effective if your didn't use all questions.

  2. I like this version better, it seems more real. Like the memories are memories and not just a painting on a wall. I also like how you described your mother, constantly working hard and willing to make you gingersnaps as a child. I could really feel the family.