Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thirteen: Ghosts

I do wonder about the past sometimes. I wonder what became of the young companions from the past--- the girls I danced with, the girls I flirted with, the girls I kissed on late-night streets. I've always had a good memory, at least for scenes and moments. It's easy enough to think back across all the years and  remember  faces and names and locales. I do wonder what became of those girls--- the ones known en passant as well as the ones who were friends-and-lovers.  I do have to ask myself, of course, whether I'm wondering about them because of who they were or because I'm wondering what became of characters in a novel after that final page. I may only be wondering because I want to re-live those years and those nights. What I can say is that it's all-too-easy to recall faces and the taste of kisses and the music that was playing, and I do wonder what happened to those girls beyond the moments I can recall. Assign any reason you'd like, but I still wonder.

If you live in a city, no matter its size, you will cross paths with ghostgirls from the past. City life is always a series of small neighbourhoods and entwined networks. Six degrees of separation may be a global median, but it's always much smaller in city life. Class, professions, favoured bars and bookstores and bistros, few degrees of separation in our lives. You will see faces you once loved...or at least awakened next to...and you have the issues of etiquette and social settings to consider. I believe that current gender politics has very little to offer in terms of situational advice beyond the assumption that ever speaking to an ex or thinking about one is somehow a gender-crime and tantamount to denying subjectivity or obsessional stalking.

I won't deny that it would be easier if all ex-lovers were translated to separate or parallel universes and never existed in one another's world again. The issues of politeness and social interaction are difficult enough. Memory and regret, unrequited longing, anger, possessiveness, jealousy, familiarity--- all those issues are there. Familiarity is always a dangerous issue. It's dangerously easy to respond to a voice you've once known, or a laugh, as if time had never passed, as if the person was still who and what she was years ago.  Yet being guarded and coolly polite, making the sort of distant conversation one makes with strangers, seems wrong and perhaps insulting.

We live amid our ghosts. That's only a given. Those of us who live in and through books and films are especially prone to seeing the ghosts that swirl around us.  A gentleman of a certain age  has more than a few ghosts of his own to see. I suppose I should ask you what you think of your own ghosts, of how one deals with faces out of the past. Any thoughts or memories of your own?

No comments: