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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Do You Remember Where?

Places can haunt just as easily as people. In many ways even more. There are places from my past that weave in and out of focus, One minute it is clear, solid and then it fades. Lonely places, crowded places, places that mean nothing, but maybe they use to mean everything.

Why do they follow me around? Why do they keep popping up? There is nothing connected to most of them. Nothing at all. But there they are, in the dark,in the back, worming to the front. Why? Let me clue you 

Places have magic, places have power. Magnetic attraction. Pulling you, inexorably to the past. But what past? Sometimes I even know the town we were living in at the time. Names like Roswell, Pocatello, Scottsbluff, but after that it gets fuzzy, indistinct. Where in the town was this building, this alley, this bridge. Are any of the visions still there? Were they ever really there? A lot has happened, a lot has changed. If I could go visit would anything look at all like the things chasing me? 

My wife likes to visit new places. See new things. Will they end up haunting me. One place we have been to, twice, was the unfortunate victim of a terrible wildfire. Burned, gone, erased from the place, but not from my places. It will always be there, and I will never be able to return the favor.

I work in a very old building, in an ancient part of town. Sometimes the building will sigh, and you can almost hear it say "oh brother, I can tell you, I have seen some things." And you know it has. It has seen a lot of things. It sat, derelict, empty except for some homeless people, wildlife and memories. The memories are still there.We don't talk about those, though. They are just out of sight, you can feel them, but you can't see them.

When I first read "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad the line "and this also has been one of the dark places..." kept me from being able to finish the story. I tried, but the "dark places" kept insinuating itself into my thoughts. Not so much because I felt my memories were of dark places, but the notion places had the ability to be dark. Still, to this day, those words have more meaning than he probably intended. What of the places that come to me, without being called, without explanation?  Certainly they had at one point been a place of darkness. But it was long before I got there. Then they were just places, with a story to tell. Maybe a lot of stories, or maybe just one long story.

Maybe, since my family moved a lot when I was young, and I have always been a little awkward, shy, it was easier to meet places, things. Maybe places, things were easier to understand. Maybe they still are. I don't know, maybe nobody does. Maybe no place knows. but, maybe they do.