Ghosts on My Commute

>> Friday, June 15, 2007


I see ghosts on my daily commute.

Near my home there’s a man who walks with his dog. He’s an older man who wears a green army T-shirt. His dog wears a red bandana around his neck and an American flag juts up from his collar. They walk slowly. He’s a retired vet, I imagine, parading his dog and his patriotism throughout the neighborhood each day. He worries me. More than once he’s crossed a busy intersection without checking to see if cars were coming. I’d hate to drive along one day to see the old man and his dog lying in a pool of red, white and blue blood.

Next on my way to work, my husband and I see the Longhair Couple. They’ve been walking towards campus for at least 7 years. We’re fond of them. This heterosexual couple wears their dark blonde hair in long ponytails down their backs. She’s a little taller, so her thin hand takes lead position. He mostly wears cargo shorts, even on brisk winter mornings. They remind us of Iowa City, circa 1990, which is the time and place of our courtship. If we ever see them walking separately, we will be sad.

Closer to work still, I see an an older couple walking through campus. I see them at least once a week. Except for the tennis shoes, they dress as though going to brunch, sporting matching tan or powder blue slacks with printed pullovers. But they’re not going to brunch -- this is how they exercise. She exercises her role as lead wife, walking two steps ahead and wearing a large brimmed raffia hat. He exercises his scowl and carries himself reluctantly. His right arm dangles slightly and I notice his fingertips end just below his elbow, probably some sort of birth defect. Or maybe he slapped her ass one too many times.

Faithfully, these people appear, disappear, and reappear during my daily commute like ghosts. The predictability of my daily ghosts comforts me and makes me feel part of the collective San Diego neighborhood. Sometimes I wonder: do these people ever get where they’re going? Or, are the stuck on a Mobius strip of life, constantly following the same path and repeating the same steps.

Am I?

There are other, more transient ghosts. There was the Japanese man jogging near our daughter’s daycare. He had a lean, athletic build and wore ankle and wrist weights while he jogged. There was the pair of young mothers wearing white T-shirts and ponytails who chatted and transported their sleepy toddlers through the graduate school housing complex. After a few weeks or months, they disappeared forever.

Then there were the ghosts I saw only once.

I was driving alone in my car, feeling lost and sad. I saw two women hugging and smiling near the edge of Lake Murray. Suddenly my heart opened and I felt loved and accepted. Perhaps it was because their smiles seemed so genuine. Or perhaps they radiated something good that I could only feel in my soul. They never saw me, I never met them, and I never saw them again. But they haunt my thoughts, just the same. Ghosts.




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1 comments:

Anonymous,  December 12, 2009 at 4:32 PM  

well.. it's like I said!

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