I saw a ghost today. I don’t really believe in ghosts or the supernatural. Matter of fact, I suppose you can say optimistically that I’m a skeptic when it comes to most things earth real. None-the-less; as I stepped out of our administration building around one o’clock this afternoon, made two sharp lefts and felt the bright sunshine on my skin and the weight of the humidity in the air, I came close to walking right into an apparition from my past.
The ghost was over twenty feet in front of me and walking towards me. She was walking out from under the shadow of an overhang and into the sun. My glasses were in the process of darkening into prescribed sunglasses and all I could make out was this woman’s silhouette. She was thin, short and carried herself with pride. Her back was as straight as a well-made timber and smoke from her cigarette helped obscure the details of her face.
I slowed my walk, my brain screaming I was seeing a vestige of my past, my eyes, accomplices to my brain, lied at what I was witnessing. The heat vapor rising from the road and sidewalk cast a strange and eerie fog near her feat. I tried in vain to place who this person was and where I’d seen her before. Because I know I had. But my synapsis refused to make the connection.
Seconds passed like minutes and our distance shortened. Soon, the vapor blew away as did the smoke around her head. The woman’s hair was straight, shoulder length and mousy brown. Her skin was tightly drawn over her bones and her sharp facial features revealed her skeletal features hiding millimeters beneath her flesh.
“Hello.” Her high pitched voice said to me as she passed by me.
“Good afternoon.” I managed to stammer as I clumsily passed by her.
I didn’t turn around to watch her walk away. I couldn’t. Something told me that if I did, she wouldn’t be there. That what I saw was truly my brain or something else at work in my life. So I made my way to my office, sat down at my desk and slowly, methodically and reluctantly went through the back catalog of my life of people I’d known.
It took only a few minutes and soon I was relieving my 8th grade year. The girls name was Lisa P. She’d been “dating” another boy in our class when her and I met. It was at the end of year picnic and we’d talked and bonded over tether ball. At the end of the day, she stopped by my desk and gave me her phone number.
The first few weeks of summer, we talked almost every day, but like all things in youth, immediacy of adventure and instant gratification stole my attention away from the budding relationship. In the end, at the beginning of my 9th grade, on the first day of school, when I saw her and tried to talk to her, all I received was cold shoulder and icy glares from her rich light brown eyes.
It wasn’t until weeks later, when one of her friends explained to me why Lisa wouldn’t talk to me. Because I never tried to communicate with her after those first few weeks. I tried to apologize. But the damage had already been done.
I moved on with my life. As did she.
This experience has left me wondering who else I have forgotten in my life who once meant so much to me. And do those I’ve forgotten and remember so rarely ever have thoughts of me? What is their impact on my life and my life on theirs? Lastly, is Lisa still pissed off at the teenage boy who was completely clueless to the ways of romance, love and communication?
On the heels of all these thoughts I pondered what impact I’ve had on the people in not just my daily or weekly life, but in my monthly and yearly life. I’d like to think it’s a positive one and when people look back at me they feel as if they’ve learned something, shared something, laughed at something or just had a righteous good time. Maybe, in some dark, lonely night they’ll think back and have warm, nostalgic feelings. (Okay, that last one is a stretch.)
Then I remember a small, hour long interaction I recently had with five children in one of the summer camps at our museum. The camp was on transportation. Things that go if you will. I was asked to talk to them about trains. When I discovered the campers were all under the age of six, I tried to tailor my program to something they would like.
So, for the first half hour, we assembled and electric train set, put the cars and engine on the track and each child got to operate the train as it raced in circles. They even took turns touching the moving train, answering questions about what they thought each car carried or what its purpose was.
When everyone had their turn, I took them down to my office and showed them where I worked, where the trains were worked on and how everything operated. They honked the horns, held trains in their hands and asked more questions than I care to even count.
When they left, they all had smiles on their bright faces and giggles in their hearts. I felt good. I felt like I may have done something right.
And, after what I experienced today, I hope that maybe, someday, in one of these kids future they will experience a positive apparition of their past. An apparition that will give them a happy memory and realize that maybe they were inspired by some overgrown child with an amazing job who got lucky in more ways than one.
Okay, I’m going to sign off now before I go on for another thousand words. Here’s hoping you get visited by an apparition, real or imaginary, that brings insight and joy into your life.
Have a great week.