As a child, I never knew I would spend my life falling in love with ghosts, one after the other, who would each rise up from the earth or descend from the trees about me, ghosts with mouths that released words out into the landscape of my life like a fine, cool mist searching for a fire to go up against. Words like I love you, I have met my soul mate, you.
Now ghosts come out like night animals in a loamy wood, first not seen, then as I look, I spy sets of eyes glinting in the dark. Two there, two there, two there. I see them slowly emerge and unceremoniously reveal themselves, and each in turn places a memory in my hands: my very first wine headache (age: 24). One gave me something like soaring despair (age: 37), one gave me innocent hope in diamonds and a home (age: 30), and one left me a lingering disgust in trite platitudes that lasts to this day (age: 39).
Because of my ghosts, my life’s string of love stories, I cannot:
listen to the song, “Lady in Red.” When you are 16 and the 15 year-old boy you love dedicates it to you in a dusky gym, you learn what it is to not breathe.
be a passenger in a Volvo without feeling slightly sick. I rode in your car after you taught me to appreciate vodka martinis, then gin martinis. So many martinis.
believe that “she just doesn’t understand you” while I listen and sympathize, wearing frilly underthings you chose for me. She understands you.
I cannot go to the little diner on the 101 in San Rafael where you ate ciopino, then we went home and made a child. (age: 31)
-later-after the ’til death do us part part came true-
I can, but won’t, listen to “Diamonds and Rust.” 37 years old – old enough to know better, but I still hoped.
And I cannot forget that there were those for whom I am now their ghost. As I made my way, I left pure, valuable love sit uncollected for no reason I could name or made sense. If ever I were sorry, here I am sorry. I am (still) (ever) (always) (not a big paragraph but it’s the biggest) sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry ad infinitum.
All the ghosts of my past lock hands and come forward, a procession that ends in the present (age 40 onward), where an angel now guards my heart. In the dark, where shadows make ugly stories and shame is alive, the angel enters and delivers a lamp. In it’s light, is his face. In it’s light, is his face.