Friday, January 12, 2007

The old dreams

Sometimes when the night is new, I turn out the light, throw open the window and listen.

At first there is silence. "Hello, darkness, my old friend..."

But wait. Then comes the crickets, and the frogs and the thumping of the rabbit that lives in our backyard.

Then the ghosts.

Sometimes it's welcomed. I'll hear a long-forgotten friend, saying hello through the mist of time. Josh Ellis isn't dead. He pulls up in that white car, still wearing his baseball uni, and tells me about the JV game I missed.

Other nights, it's a woman. She'll say things I want to hear. Or perhaps things I've spent a lifetime trying to forget.

I'd be lying if I didn't tell you about the characters I sometimes see. Gus and Call, from "Lonesome Dove," show up quite a bit. So does that heartbroken young man from Conroy, Jake Barnes from Hemingway and Nick Carraway from Gatsby.

One night, it's Johnny Majors, of all people. I picture him coming out of a movie theater in Pittsburgh, wishing he was back home on Rocky Top. Then it's Greg Maddux, walking to the dugout before the final strike reaches Eddie Perez' mitt. And I know afterwards it's not really Johnny or Maddux at all, but the remembrance of summers past, gone for good.

Occasionally it's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. She doesn't say much. I remember her face. If her ghost lingers, I try to deal with what happens inside my heart.

I live daily with the realization that life didn't turn out at all like I thought it would. That doesn't mean it's worse, or better. Just different.

I need only to open the window and spend time with the ghosts. They, too, remember the old dreams.


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