Ghost in This House
Every day has a sunrise and a sunset. By these I measure the passage of time. So many years, decades even, I forged full-speed ahead, always with five projects on my plate and seven more simmering in the back.
So many years. A life so full, as full as I could pack it with places, people, thoughts, dreams, imaginings, love.
I loved twice, neither time perhaps wisely. My first love fermented from a sugary sweetness to the kind of bitter, acidic vinegar that traps bugs and stinks up the house. It turned out I wasn’t what she wanted. It turned out I wasn’t what I thought I was.
We stayed together because it took less effort than divorcing, for far too long. And later, after I’d grown accustomed to living alone save for visits with my son, much later, love dropped its net on me again.
This time I knew what I was and what I wanted. He knew neither. Still, we loved and surrendered and stole what we could from the glare of public scrutiny that stalked us both, him especially.
It felt real. It felt like forever.
And then he was gone more often and for longer hours. He began to show up drunk, draping all over vapid starlets. His time away became longer and our times together shorter, and somehow, without drama, without fanfare, he was just … not there.
And something broke inside me. I don’t know what it was, but it’s swathed my life in suffocating black wool. The perpetually busy man I was has simply gone.
Now I know every inch of this house – my house, which had been our house – intimately. I touch the small horseshoe-shaped nicks above the living room door, remembering the hysterical laughter as we tried to get lights strung all around the room one Christmas. I run my fingertips across the worn brocade of “the world’s ugliest couch,” which has been put on the sidewalk and brought back in more times than I can remember.
I don’t pick up the mail. There’s no reason. Nobody writes any more.
I don’t answer the phone. I turned off the answering machine. I would turn off the phone, but sometimes listening to it ring is the highlight of the day. I don’t bother to clean, or to eat.
Painting is a remote possibility at best. Photography, to be any good, would require leaving the house. I don’t leave the house. I don’t open the door. Day by day I wander in the darkness, uncaring, feeling the flesh melt away and leave nothing but bones that ache.
I never thought I was old before, but now that I’m a ghost, I know I’m old. Someday someone nosey may break the door down and haul me screaming into the light, but until then I’m content.
A living scar of loving too well but not at all wisely.
A ghost in my own life.
© 2011 Judy W. Crump
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