My Friendly Ghosts

"Have I told you about my ghost theory?" I asked as we made our way up the big hill behind the school. 
She, who doesn't think me odd when I suggest a walk to visit my favorite tree, isn't at all fazed by this question. 
"No..." she answers, implying her willingness to hear this theory of mine. 
So, I tell her about the ghosts I see.

Now don't look at me like that, I don't claim to have seen spirits -- malicious, friendly or otherwise -- rather, my "ghosts" as I like to call them, are the indelible marks that some of my strongest memories have left on the fabric of time and space.

I had been visiting one of my best friends from college and her husband, a sort of birthday-celebration/last-spontaneous-road-trip-before-I-move-even-farther-away-and-start-working-40-hours-a-week visit. They still live near our alma mater, as he works for the school, so aside from seeing them that weekend, I was also visiting with all my old ghosts.

Here's how I see it: its like taking a time-lapse photo of one location that highlights just the past iterations of myself in that place. I can look at a favorite spot and see myself there a hundred times. That favorite tree I mentioned? Past selves ramble all around its trunk: picnicking in the April violets, posing for pictures in a sweeping gown, stooping to pick up a fragile yellow leaf to press in my journal.

Four years of adventures -- and misadventures -- in such a small town and small campus means there's more adventures, and consequently more of my ghosts, per square mile. Whenever I return, I run into myself everywhere. Sometimes, on these meetings, I wince and apologize to my former self for my awkwardness, my faux pas and blunders. The strong emotion of anxiety in those moments make them stick out more.
Other times, I  climb a railing or clear ivy off crumbling brick steps  to keep company with a peaceful ghost. Sitting in comfortable old hideaways and perches, I can recall the phone conversations, the journaling, the extended periods of reverie there, and I am calmed by the remembrance.

You may wonder if indulging this wild of fancy of mine is healthy; if, perhaps, I'm dwelling on the past too much. I don't believe so. It helps to see where I've been, to hold up my past as a measuring-stick to my present, just to see how much I've grown. As much as I may reminisce and get nostalgic over the pleasant times I've had, I know that they came with trials that I would never wish back. I'm through them now, having moved on to new difficulties and growing pains.

I would never have become the Me I am now, were it not for who I was then. And for that reason, I'll always welcome a visit with my friendly ghosts.

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