Saturday, April 9, 2016


The ghosts of my past return in the oddest of ways. 

Since shortly before my 19th birthday, I've tried to assuage ghosts, the personality ideas of those who no longer orbit my real, every day world. From then-on, I've kept them at bay, at a distance comfortable.

Often they revisit me, and they do usually at the behest of a third party.

The New Agey types, the spiritualists have tried to convince me of the significance, but I know it's mere serendipity, chance that brings them back to me. 

They're not ghosts in the movie sense, and they're not the paranormal variety either. They're just people who were part of my past. 

The two who dominated my early years were, of course, my parents.

A random birthday card some thirty years ago, for some reason my dearest friend had it.
This week they both came back into my life through my dearest friend who now functions as a curator of my life. She has anchoring to me through our high school years, a marriage, baby, divorce, raising a child, and more recently being a Best Person at my wedding. 

I've asked her to search her stuff for pictures of my father, as my wife is curious about him due to all the stories and vignettes I've told her. That, and it'd be nice for my children to at least know what their grandfather looked like.

My friend found a set of negatives tucked away in her garage. 

In May of 1989, I graduated high school, and it was a awkward day for me. I hated public education, and it was a sincere and adult kind of sober hatred. I loved the time period, and the people of that time period, but the formal schooling blew much ass. 

For graduation, we were admonished to abide by a strict dress code. By this time I was 18 years old, and I knew enough that being a legal adult meant they had very little sway over my actual choices. Whatever. I didn't give a fuck.

I shaved my head.

I wore a concert t-shirt and board shorts, and my favorite sneakers.

I walked into the gym that day to a hush as classmates looked me over. The attending administrator jumped me quick, getting in my face, threatening to hold back my diploma. I laughed, which has always been my first impulse around bullies, and informed him I was cool either way. It would just give me more of the rest of this beautiful day. As we argued, the Pomp and Circumstance music played my classmates in, and the public school official had to make a choice to ruin not only my day but also my family's.

He huffed off, and I joined the parade.

The Point Loma air breezed up my gown, and I was very comfortable as the valedictorians and big wigs spoke in that day's famous cliches.

When I finally met up with my parents, my mother blushed and began crying, but only partly in anger. She understood me better than most. My father, well, he'd barely made a dent in my life for the last few years, so he was just eager to recognize my face. 

It is the only picture I have of him. He looks older than I remember from that time. The height of his belt cracks me up. He looks smaller than I remember. I am older than him now as of this typing than he was then, and yet the years appeared to already be wearing him down.

Not three years later, he would shoot himself in the head while staying at a Northern California business hotel. 

On graduation day, however, pictured in negatives from almost thirty years ago, he really tried to be a father. He joked with me. He handed me a check for a couple hundred bucks ... and I remember that being the most clinical gift I ever received. It took no originality or notice of my personality, and, when I thought about it some more, it was probably his last child support payment cut in half.

I thanked my dearest friend for sending me the negatives. I don't know that I'll have them ultimately developed. I don't know that I want to see him again. Honestly.

Sometimes it is best, healthiest, to leave ghosts back where they belong. Sometimes, there is no sense in having to explain their life's narrative arc, its eventual sad conclusion. Sometimes, it's just best to let them be ghosts.

And I mean it.  



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