Between ages 9 and 18 I lived at 29960 Rock Creek Drive, in Southfield, Michigan, a Detroit suburb. My parents haven't lived there, or anywhere near it, in more than 10 years. Even before they moved, it was already fading. I went to college, it never felt like home again: after starting my sophomore year, I never moved back. I haven't visited it since they left, but I've been there many times in dreams.
Of all of the houses before it and after it, this is the house that still appears as the stage for many of my dreams. Actually, it's not the house that's in my dreams, but the neighborhood around it. Yesterday, I was visiting Grandma nearby and I decided to document the places that my dreams take place. I went back to the house for the first time in maybe 5 years, only the second time since 1994, and the first time I got out of the car.
Here are the pictures:
Here is a panorama of the intersection of Rock Creek Drive and Hickory Leaf, the closest intersection to the house, which often appears (if only as an implicit location, something that feels like it's perenially nearby):
I've also made a Google/Flickr memory map that identifies the actual locations of a number of the photos:
I'll let the photos stand without further explanation (I'm sure there's plenty of symbolism there that you can decipher), but I think, based on the places where it "felt right" to take pictures, that most of my memories of this time were made in the summers when I was 11 and 12. I spent those summers riding bicycles with friends around the neighborhood.
What's most interesting is how mundane the photographs look and how impossible it is to convey the intensity of meaning they have for me. Or, actually, the intensity of meaning that those places have in my dreams. Not that I want to convey the intensity, that's not the point and it would be futile to try, but the mundane-ness of the images underscores how deeply ideosyncratically we're wired. If I ever had any doubt about my inability to experience images or places entirely objectively, walking into the empty stage of my childhood dreams extinguished it.
It's an incredibly powerful lesson in experince design for me, though I don't know if I'll ever be able to properly articulate it.