It’s Halloween. I stayed home sick and in bed most of the day. I’ve been a mess of fever and snot and exhaustion, but whenever I stay home sick, I always want to write because just lying around feels like wasting time- of which, I never seem to have enough these days. So, here we have it. Ghosts.
I think my MySpace account still exists. Not that I’ve logged into it in years, but I’ve simply refused to get rid of it because there are some photos from a lifetime ago that I’ve still got emotional ties to. That makes me sound like a hoarder of sorts. A digital one, if you will. I’m not the only one. In fact, I know a few people who are paying for cloud storage to keep things they’ll never touch again. At least I’m not that bad.
Pictures from a lifetime ago. Photos of a Jake who doesn’t exist anymore and friends gone by. This is MySpace. Facebook is becoming the same thing, but really only because it’s become the place where people contact me when they have no other way to do it. They generally have no other way for a reason. But I manage too many pages on the Facebook to get rid of it.
While we’re there though, I have photos of myself with girls I dated long ago. Some of them have untagged themselves when they got married or started having kids. More ghosts. I should delete them, but I haven’t. It’s not just ghosts of girlfriend past, either, but plenty of photos and comments from people who appear on birthdays to wish me well in my aging. Apparitions with annual appearances, without malice or malevolence, just there.
There are other types of ghosts, too. Memories, triggered by the scent of pizza dough, certain perfumes and songs. Songs draw out the dead more quickly than anything else. Songs that I’d play on repeat during long drives in certain seasons of my life. Albums associated with books or when I had the time, video games. Even fictional ghosts can haunt us, appearing in the car, on the road when the radio changes to that tune we forgot about. How many of us have knitting needles or blank canvases hiding under our beds and in our closets, the ghosts of hobbies abandoned collecting dust?
Some people hunt certain types of ghosts. They’re either followed around by cameras and scientific equipment, or they cyber stalk on social media. This is not something I would recommend. Or, know what you’re getting into because chances are, if they’re one of your ghosts, you’re probably dead to them, too. Do you really want to haunt someone? They may exorcise your presence with an unfriend, or worse, a do not contact order.
Can we clear our homes and memories, freeing us from these phantoms and shadows? Not really. We can delete accounts and pictures and donate our long silent accordions to thrift stores, but that’s only getting rid of the evidence. And for the most part, why would we want forget about people and hobbies and parts of our lives? Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, isn’t it? Tennyson was talking about romance when he said that, but it totally applies to friendships, too. But I guess it isn’t always the case for everyone. The only way to escape is to keep moving on. When a ghost shows up, acknowledge them for what they are. If they persist, then they might get a status upgrade to zombie, then perhaps living human again if they truly make it back onto your calendar again and that’s okay.