I’m searching for a ghost that I’m afraid to see.
I used to look for it by driving familiar streets and boulevards late at night, each one imbued with its own collection of myths. I was fond of the one where we drove to the ocean and listened to oldies on the radio. I miss that one.
I was attempting, forcing maybe, the reconstruction of a trace of an image as simple as the one where we’re in the park in the afternoon and the lady in the wheelchair near the tree gets upset with us for smoking on the swings.
The effort of forcing a memory though is not good practice, and attempting to use willpower to draw silhouettes on the present scene misses out on the subtleties experienced through undivided attention.
I’m talking about ghosts, but not in the way that we usually talk about ghosts.
They exist beneath the polished surface of the material world and are often locked within the layered problems of memory. Their projection can be triggered by even the most casual movements in time.
Moments at which the present narrative and a memory become entangled and together form a new and original experiment. Ghosts then play over our surroundings, like holograms or movies.
The blue fabric chair in the corner, you on it, reading your Japan travel guide in the afternoon light. The lamp with the paper shade, casting a shadow over the small orange skull with a half burned wick on top. The French doors open and the air moving through the room and the sound of the leaves rustling outside.
The night we slept on the couch, when your husband was out of town.
I go back to old places late at night, in the city, on its edges. Sometimes as far as the suburbs if I’m looking to stretch the feeling. On highways and freeways, connecting the electric metropolis of organized chaos when I stitch together a narrative in the dark.
I change the radio dial and get off the 10 somewhere and go to 7-11 for a pack of cigarettes and the drive to the place on Broadway where we would meet each other late at night for a drink, but I don’t find any trace of you.
I draw on a napkin and then fold it and put it in my pocket.
One day, I sat in the patio of the empty café, listening for the sound of your black ballerina flats moving in my direction. I remember those same flats moving across a checkerboard floor, your shoulders back, chin tilted slightly up with just a hint of arrogance. Like a perfect picture dancer caught in time. How beautiful you looked.
All you needed was a rose to match your red lipstick and this image channels Wim Wenders and his classic Polaroids of Perris, Texas.
How do you search through a labyrinth? What are the strategies and why should I trust them?
What can I do to forget you?