I have ghosts.
These ghosts aren’t the people from my past who I’ve known and lost. They aren’t even people from the past I’ve only read or heard about.
These ghosts are younger versions of me.
I look out the window of my office and I see myself, hurrying around the little walking trail adjacent, trying to figure out what to do about my drug-addicted twenty-year old son.
I walk out the front of the building, and I see myself, pacing before an exam, staring up at the tall building I now work in where the exams were administered.
Across the street, I see a much younger me eating at the old diner, in the very first week after we moved here – with a different wife (my ex) and our then-infant son.
A lot of our lives takes place within a few square miles: our joys, our heartbreaks, our meltdowns, even our sex. There are groceries stores we’ve walked miles in, church pews we’ve occupied, a couch we’ve watched 10,000 hours of television on.
But we change as we age. The play goes on, but our part changes, and the players change, as well. Sometimes we walk out on stage, only to realize we are in a whole different theater than we remember starting in. Or growing in.
My ghosts aren’t malignant. They don’t even notice me. They are fully wrapped up in the problems or experiences of their day. I’m just there observing. In a few short hours (it’s lunchtime right now), I’ll be back home, holding my baby granddaughter, who is very close to being able to crawl. I know she won’t be a baby much longer. One day I’ll see ghost me, holding her, smiling with her.
She, on the other hand, won’t remember.
Because, you see, what makes these “ghosts” is that I’m the only one who can see them, and I’m the only one who will ever see them. I write (and maybe you do, too) to try to recreate a little of my experience for you, in the hope I can’t faintly project a little bit of my ghost-world onto the walls of your cave.
But I can’t really expect you to look for long. All of you have ghosts of your own.