I dreamt the other night that we bought a house. A cavernous 1970s monster of a house, with cobwebby cathedral ceilings, worn parquet flooring and a picture window taking in a newly asphalted driveway.

The back of the house had a narrow kitchen with dreary blue linoleum curling beneath the cabinets. A dark pantry to the left held a rickety wooden staircase twisting down to a small yard. When you looked out the meager window over the sink, it was across the ocean. The house was on a high cliff above the sea.

Huge waves would rise up, crash and shake my new house, smack against the windows, wallop the foundation. The waves were continual, churning, relentless. I was sure that these colossal strikes would knock the place down – the ocean wanted to FIGHT my house, and my house would lose, surely! The building couldn’t possibly take another hit, reduced to splinters among the rocks below… but it didn’t. The water would retreat after each surge, frothing and dissatisfied. My house held.

We learned to wait out the wave-hits, then run to the slippery deck off the kitchen, out over the sea, when the water slid back into itself across the miry lawn. Grip the wet railing and take in the expanse. Breathe. Grey skies above. Dark rocks below. And the ocean, gathering itself for another try.

I grew accustomed to the waves battering my house, a dramatic yet ineffective gesture, pretentiously rattling the faux brass fixtures: full of power but lacking action. Heating vents in the worn parquet floor kept my feet warm as I sat in the living room, brown corduroy couch, untidy stack of books and magazines next to me. And I just… continued, while the waves tried, and tried, dull thuds repeatedly bawling for attention.

No. All was calm within my stuccoed walls. The house wasn’t going anywhere, regardless of the commotion outside.