Nightly Ice Water


When I was just seven years old my family moved to the Connecticut house I spent the rest of my growing up years in. It was a crazy sprawling set of two barns that had been moved together to make “a house” if that is what you could call it. When it was first repurposed from barns that were multi hundreds of years old, it was used as the “carriage house, servants quarters and party space ” for the main house next door.  
Half the building was barn siding that you could practically see through where the boards joined together and the other half was clapboard, all without much insulation. It was freezing cold in the winter, despite the furnace that resembled Spike, the fire breathing dragon under the stairs in the Munster’s TV show and took up its own ten by ten room. The summers were no better since no Yankee thought there was a need for air conditioning back in the sixties and seventies.
My seven-year-old-self bedroom was the last room in the string of maid’s rooms. To get there from the main kitchen you had to go through the upstairs dining room, up a half set of stairs, through “the little living room” down a winding set of stairs, through an entry hall and open a secret door, slither down a very narrow hallway that also had a very low ceiling, turn right and go through the maid’s galley kitchen, go through one door in my sister Margaret’s room, navigate toys and books and such on the floor to get to her other door and then one more hallway past our shared bathroom to my room.  
Of course, being such an old house you could take the secret passage way from my room, up the back barn “stairs,” which had no light and were fourteen inch risers and only about four inch treads so I had to climb them like a ladder to pull my seven year old self up into the “big living room.” From there I could go through the “little living room” down the half set up stairs to the upstairs dining room and into the upstairs kitchen.
Needless to say getting to the kitchen from my room was quite an ordeal. Yes, I had the “maid’s kitchen” right near my room, but we never used it as a kitchen, only a passage way when we first moved in and then it became my youngest sister’s room when she was born. It was the furthest thing from a nursery. It had one small window that looked out to a creek that ran under the upstairs kitchen and dining room that were built on stilts then in a tunnel that ripen under our driveway. We affectionately called that room “the inner sanctum.” My sister has every right to need therapy for that.
All this being said is to describe why I had a recurring dream when I was a kid. I loved to have a big glass of ice water on my bed side table, often waking up in the middle of the night to take a drink. It was a huge trip for me to get to the kitchen to get that ice water, especially when we still had to pry the cubes out of one of the two metal ice trays from the freezer. More nights than most I would fall asleep without getting my water and then I would dream of having an electric cold water fountain in my room. Not a white porcelain kind, like we had at school that just spit out tap water, but the kind that refrigerated the water.  
I had the perfect spot for it in the hallway right outside my bathroom, like all water fountains were in public schools. When I would wake up parched from either sleeping in the freezing cold, or the sweltering heat and realize I had forgotten to get my water before bed I would look to the hallway and would envision the water fountain like a mirage. It was a long journey through our big drafty Connecticut barns if I were to try and make the trek to the kitchen. If I went the path through my sisters’ rooms I took the chance of waking them and that would be hell to pay, but if I went the back barn steps I had to climb down the steps/ladder while carrying a glass and that was no easy feat. No wonder I dreamt many times of that water fountain.
I have not changed much, but thank goodness my house has. I still like to have my big glass of ice water on my bedside table, but now I never make the mistake of going to bed without it, even though the journey is so much easier if I forget. The good news is that I no longer have the recurring dream of that cold water fountain. I guess I made my own dreams come true.

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