“It was not the first ghost he had seen. That had been a few years back outside of Whiskey Peets in the Nevada desert when Owen Ashburn, not quite feeling up for the roller coaster past dark, felt a specter lean in close and whisper just so he could hear, “I take care of you.” It remained his earliest memory.”
First you believe in ghosts and monsters. Santa Claus follows. Or maybe it’s Michael Jordan. The world is unreal. It’s big. You forget about the ghosts and the monsters, someone finally tells you Santa Claus is a hoax. You pick up a book about astrophysics and the world is big again. It becomes the whole of time, backwards and forwards, and just like when you wonder what’s in that dark place beneath your bed, now you wonder what is beyond the edge of the Universe. This is your world.
But it’s too much. Your heart gets broken. Your best friend beats you up. A parent dies. You lose your job. That bigness vanishes; the present overwhelms you. Santa Claus might be real but it doesn’t matter when you don’t just want a job but NEED a job.
The life of an adult is small. All the bigness, all the glory of time is divided and subdivided, partitioned off into activities that we plan ahead for weeks. My free time feels so rare that I rarely do anything with it. I make a list the day before, sometimes two. If I don’t, half my time will vanish into my bed. I can search for the dark places in the hills or under my bed but all I do is sit and think and wonder when the next free moment will come.
I want to live near a creek again with friends that live a block away. I want everyday to be an opportunity instead of an overstuffed duffle bag. I’ll probably need to quit my job. Or at least downsize my life. Or maybe that’s what the road is for. Maybe that’s why we do it. We step out onto it and if we don’t watch our feet, there’s no telling where we might get swept off to. I think Bilbo said that. Not knowing where you might go. Darkness. The unknown. That’s where the ghosts are. That’s where those earliest memories reside. Is there a way to get it back before it’s too late?
© 2013 Christopher Dart