Monday, March 15, 2010

I told you I would do it so here.

I took my time when I cut her up, making sure to cut as precisely as possible. There was no rush. I gathered all the fluffy, white scraps after they had been cut and put them in a pie tin; a lowly container, but it would be suitable for flames. I set the pie tin in the fake fireplace. The snowy mound was a ghost. My ghost, but a little one, because when only a part of you is gone, or going, the ghost is small. When all of you is gone, the ghost becomes so big it is as big as the universe. This is why pointing at the sky when asked where deceased loved ones are is silly. They are so big you are in them.

My little ghost stayed in a duffel bag for about 2.5 years. She sat so quiet, so patient. I had forgotten about her. She never glowed, or floated about the house, or made "wooo" noises. She just lay there, in the dark of the upper reaches of the closet. That, of course, is where you put ghosts of parts of yourself, pictures of your ex-husband, clothes you think you might wear again maybe, gifts you don't like, and instruction manuals.

Me and the boy finally found a new place where the porch didn't sag dangerously, there wasn't mold climbing inside the bathroom walls and the refrigerator wasn't from the 70s and sealed with plumber's putty. We emptied all the storage. I found an mp3 player the size and weight of a bar of soap, my first camera, a book about birds of North America and this duffel bag. The little ghost did scare me a little when I opened the bag, but not on purpose. I was just not expecting her with her patience and silence and seeing the part of you that is gone is always a little strange.

If I were on a stranded island with some survivors of a plane crash or something, I would probably want everyone to let everyone else know how they preferred their last rites to be performed, if any. And, if possible, I would perform them if any of them were to die. I feel that this is the honorable and respectful thing to do, and beyond that, if there is any favor that a person should be afforded, it should be this one. This was the case with my ghost.

She looked happy to be in that pie tin and out of the duffel bag. I looked at her for a bit before lighting a match and tossing it into the tin. Her fluffiness and the small pieces made for a quick burn. I stayed with her until she was charred to the bottom of the pie tin. I was doing what was right, but that meant she was disappearing.

A lot of people go through this process of getting rid of ghosts of parts of themselves. They say they've thrown off their past, burst out of their shell, that a great weight has been lifted. But we all miss the heft; light blankets feel imaginary at the start of spring, when down comforters are gone. After a haircut, ponytails feel capricious in the breeze. There's always something sitting on our hearts, whether it's sad or happy, light or heavy. Invisible weights that we carry around, one or sometimes a few at a time. So when they say a great weight has been lifted, there's usually a bit left there still.

It's like our hearts are scales, and this is how we measure value in our lives. Ghosts of parts of ourselves don't weigh a lot, as you can imagine. But they do register. When change happens, we often bring out all the little ghosts we've been keeping around, line them up, and set them on our hearts for measurement. Some are leaden and need to be disposed of, some are feather-light and can stay, some are heavy but we insist on lugging them around, and others are necessary ballast. But for a few moments after I had weighed, retired, and said goodbye to this ghost, nothing sat on my heart in her place. It was a scale with nothing to weigh.

Rule: Try not to use more than one metaphor at once, like I just did. Whoops. Oh well, at least I can decipher this nonsense.

1 comment:

Jessface said...

This made me feel very sad, and made me want to cling to my childhood mementos.