There are things I want to believe but my head won't let me. There are things I want to know but my heart gets in the way. Then there is the body I want to have were it not for the cheesecake, the life I want to lead if only I had no couch, the book I want to write if only I weren't afraid to fail. Or succeed. Now this is getting away from me, this introduction to a thing I'm not even sure is real.
I believe in ghosts (so long as they don't make me a fool).
My father had two brothers. They grew up in Rye, New York. When they had left the house and she was older, my grandmother bought a second house in Santa Fe. She loved Native American history and culture. Eventually she got cancer of the everything, and when she got very sick my dad and his brothers went to Santa Fe to be with her when she died. She died and my dad bought his older brother a Native American pin to wear on his lapel at the funeral. My uncle lost the pin the day that he went to pick up my grandmother's ashes. (To ashes and dust to dust) Nobody thought much about it, there was so much going on.
Months later the brothers went back to Rye, New York to close up their boyhood home. It had sold and the house was bare. They brought their sleeping bags to sleep one last time in that house, the three of them lined up on the black and white checkered floor of the foyer. In the morning the wind began to blow. It was August in New York, hot, thick and still, but the wind was blowing so my uncle got up to check the windows but they were already closed. When he got back to his sleeping bag he slipped his hand under his pillow and there was the Native American pin he had lost the day he went to pick up his mother's ashes.
From Santa Fe to upstate New York. The house was bare. My dad swears that neither he nor his other brother put the pin under the pillow and I see in his eyes that he is telling the truth. This is the story in my family and we all just kind of tell it and stare. My grandmother was an Auntie Mame kind of lady, funny, a lady almost broken who made a party out of the everyday. She taught me how to fold my cloth napkin into two perfect pointy breasts, the punchline of a joke I don't quite remember. She blew spitballs through her straw at The Apawamis Country Club and then blamed my brother, so why wouldn't she steal her son's pin and make a grand show of giving it back 3,000 miles away?
Sometimes at night I ask for her to come to me. Grandma Do, I whisper, I miss you. She died when I was twelve and I can't help but wish I had known her as an adult. Come to me, talk to me. It's okay, I'm ready. And then I feel my neck naked and I say no! Forget it! I'm not ready! I'm scared! And I hide my head beneath the covers hot with no air. So far she has not come.
I want to believe in so much, but more than ghosts, more than the possibility that there is nothing but this so on and so forth the end, more than anything I am afraid of being duped. How silly is that? In the grand scheme of life and death I am afraid of being made a fool?
Last night Zoey could not fall asleep so I sat on the edge of her bed and tickled her face lightly. Zoey? I asked. Did you choose me to be your mommy? Yes, mama, she said and smiled. It was one of those nights impossibly soft. Then again she also said that she'd just seen a scorpion when that was months ago in Costa Rica, yesterday and tomorrow the same as today, that her plush chihuahua was thirsty for juicies, that there was a fairy beating its wings against her window. tap tap tap There are things I want to hear but I am too tired.
Watch this video and tell me what you think. Or feel. Whatever. Tell me what is true, please, if you would, about life and death and ghosts, reincarnation what in tarnation. But please watch this video before you comment.