My Ghost Has a Name

July 11, 2009

Since my adolescence there has been a ghost in my house. Even stranger than this possible delusion is the dizzying, but altogether, real fact that this ghost committed suicide last week.

Really, this ghost wasn’t a literal and ethereal wisp of an apparition so much as she was a thing, an object, an abstract construction. But really, and to be completely honest: more than any conceptual amalgamation of the mind my ghost was a real person – existing somewhere out-there, in the world. What’s more, she had a name. She will always have a name: Laurel.

Laurel was my high school girlfriend. And like so many that came into contact with me as a youth, I handled her with the most profound sense of irresponsibility. For my adolescent infirmities were pronounced – the pockets of greatness in my growing body, yet-unrealized.

As any reasonable human would do: Laurel broke-up with my high school self. She dumped me into the education of deserved emotional turmoil. And then, as quickly as it came: high school ended. I left. She left. And so it has been that, for the last fifteen years this girl I once knew as Laurel simply became an apparition. An airy wisp that stood as a testament that I existed at all; proof that I was as horrible as I really was. Laurel’s ghost was something that followed me. Something that hovered. A cloud of intelligence that I secretly looked up to.

Once her actual human form had completely dissipated from the reality of my life, she grew large; and lived in the unreality of my life – in the dreamstate of my waking life. She became an idea. A drive. An impetus. She became that thing which I measured much of my growing sense of everything against. She became my silent, unrelenting inner turmoil: That puzzle which, if I somehow solved – I always knew that I would, in-turn, solve myself.

And if the truth needs to be told: I am no different than you, dear reader. We all have our ghosts that push us onward. Forward. If we listen to them, or see them at all…

Now, the sad and true fact is that: Laurel is an official ghost. Beyond the land of the living. Last week, Laurel killed her self. She committed suicide. She passed-on. She died. She’s not with us anymore…

It has been nearly, exactly – fifteen years since I last saw Laurel’s human face. Sure, she has visited me in dreams – the only place I’ve really seen her at all. And after years and years of this; she has lost her face to the ghostly apparitions of ideas and abstract concepts. Still, I know our time was real as my proof resides in a couple of photographs still held in the annals of my youth.

For most of these fifteen years, Laurel lived in the same world that I did. And really, not very far from me. There were reported sightings in public. We may have even stood in the same room without knowing it.

Then, in one mysterious twist of technological fate, I saw her face on my computer – on a social networking site. My breath ceased. And for many moments, my body stopped altogether. Her face, once again, for the first time in fifteen years, was before me. I couldn’t resist, and so: I wrote. Only much after my greeting did I even realize what I was saying; the complications of making this kind of unsolicited contact at all.

After staring at my words for many laborious minutes – I sent the email off. And then a near-eternity passed wherein she did not respond. Really, and as I knew: I did not expect a response. I did not deserve a response.

Then, a couple of months later and, for some strange reason, she responded. She said that we had both attended the same social engagement the week before. From what I was told, we missed one another by mere minutes. Again, she moved by me in the winds of life. Yet more proof that she existed at all. Yet more proof that she was, in fact, the ghost of my life: Her breeze left in the summer night as a wake to the possibility of ever seeing her face again.

Laurel’s correspondence was mixed with a height of emotion and the lack therein. Where she pronounced her successes in life, she also muddled them with the void of lacking, of wanting, of desiring, of unrequited ambition. Her words struck me to be such a puzzle that I actually shared them with a friend. I was begging for the deciphering code; another perspective. And what I was told by my friend: that it appeared there was some kind of backhanded invitation to meet. In the least, to bump into one another. To this end, I smiled. I wished nothing more than to complete my profound apologies with a handshake, an actual sighting. A hug.

But this wasn’t to be.

And now, I’m afraid that, more than any future hauntings or this supreme sadness that has washed over me in the heaviest of manners – I’m afraid that I’ve lost a piece of the identity that I’ve known for all these years. For it was she, Laurel, that has always been that kind of presence which has served as a mirror for all my life’s pursuits, dreams and functions. For it was her that I would have my secret conversations with: About my worth, my progress, how far I had come; and also about my retribution, my penance, my struggles that I knew something like karma had afforded me.

For the last fifteen years, I have always looked to her visage, her ghostly image, her airy wisp, her as the idea (THE idea) – for confirmation that I was not alone. That something like God was watching over me afterall. The simple fact that I knew she was out there, somewhere provided that kind of solace which shouted: you are being looked after. You have a judge. This call said: care for yourself. Grow. Bellow. Exalt. Know Thy Self. Care for your self and for everyone else in all the ways that you never cared for her; couldn’t care for her.

In all honesty, maybe I am a bit terrified that the time has come where Laurel truly can perform all of these mystical functions that I have probably only imagined, hitherto. Maybe the time has come – maybe the time always was going to come where she could really and truly – alas! Look over my shoulder and appear in the dead of night, around the corner of my closets. For fate is always determined in the end times; the history of everything is determined by its past and those which gaze upon it.


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