All the Ghosts of Us
I don't believe in ghosts - well, not the spirit kind that are said to haunt us on their way to heaven, but I do believe that ghosts of us live like shadows in every place we've ever been, still doing all we've ever done, seeing all we saw and that if we look we'll still be there and there occupying space for posterity - still living scene by scene, as we were in any given moment.
Just yesterday I walked along a street and found you leaning against a wall. I saw a girl - (it was me). I watched us kiss before holding hands and leaving, only to be replaced, by you leaning against the wall, waiting. I followed us until I came to a crossing where I turned to take a path we'd never trod, and glancing back, I swear I saw me turn to look me in the eye in what might have been an early premonition.
My mind takes me back to our old house, and when I let my mind inside I see us in the lounge
where unashamed, we dance - you, so young, your grey eyes shining with firelight, lips full of kisses, and there I go falling, laughing into a moment. Me into you - you into me - captured forever.
I sometimes stand at the foot of our bed and watch us sleeping with the baby in the middle. And there is the girl who creeps in from dreaming. We do not notice as she clambers in to nestle beside the babe, but unaware, we close her in our circle, while in the next room Boy in his bunk is reading; never got the hang of continuous sleeping... Watching him, I wish I'd kissed his night flushed cheek instead of chastising him for insomnia. I'd kiss him now, but I still fear I mightn't reach him.
I walk downstairs and standing in the doorway, I find myself on the couch - weeping. The phone rings and I see me unsteadily rise to answer, upsetting the dregs of wine as I stumble. I gather from the single sided stilt of conversation that it's you calling late, to let me know you won't be home again. I shake my head as I hear me say, 'Another week!' I could almost weep myself, as I watch myself sinking to the floor. Hopeless.
Meanwhile, in our flat, we are laughing as I step out of the puddle of a white lace gown. We've left the world behind - so much time ahead of us and happiness beyond our wildest expectations. Looking at us there, I see I am a child in many ways - before ambition made you leave for weeks and months on end. Before the children came, who I was left to raise alone.
Sometimes my mind gets stuck in the old house, and as much as the then and the then and the other thens of me long to escape, I seem to be clinging on. I'd like to ignore the inconsequential lover trapped there too, but can't. So now there's us arguing, the lover lingering, children playing, chasing, lazing... Us again, loving, lounging, eating. There's you, walking back and forth, trying to suss out your next business move. There are all the friends we ever entertained, my parents, your parents, layer upon layer of occasions - fun, laughter. Tears.
In my present house, there are ghosts a-plenty. There are the ghosts of our children; more children. His ghosts and mine, longing, loving, living, forgetting. Trying not to regret things. And of course, there's you.
As I pass the old green couch, newer then, I see us sitting close; you holding my hand - you're telling me about a new love; explaining you will always care for me, though, and I am saying the same to you. I've watched this scene replay a million times. It's like a movie viewed over and over, and even though we expect the ending, we hope it will turn out differently the next time around. It's like Gone With The Wind.
And tomorrow is just another yesterday, with ghosts in the making.