The gas man came today, and filled the tank for the fireplace. I didn’t request that he do this — had forgotten the task entirely — but it seems you were responsible.
The bill left behind by the gas company says it’s September. I hadn’t noticed the time passing, but I guess that explains why the nights have grown cooler. Had I realized the season, I probably would’ve wanted a fire to take the chill off. Instead, I just wrapped the wool tartan, the one you bought for me in Scotland during our honeymoon, around my shoulders and shivered.
Now that the tank is full, I suppose I could turn on the fireplace. Truth be told, the very thought of doing so, of flicking that switch, hearing the gassy whoosh and watching the blue flames erupt into a fiery dance makes me even sadder.
I always wanted a fireplace, dreamed of it for so many years. And finally, after much scrimping and saving, we were able to afford a house that had one. How many nights did we sit by the fire, draining the tank of all its fuel? How many days did we cuddle on the couch underneath the red blanket and watch the snow fall?
What was once a dream, and then a reality, has now become just one more reminder that you are gone. Ghosts don’t need a fire to see, or a fire to read by, or a fire to snuggle close to the one you love.
I’m loathe to admit it, but sometimes, it feels like I’m a ghost, too. No doubt you’d hate that I feel this way, but I can’t help it. Ever since you left, I’ve been haunting these rooms. I forget to eat. When I get out of bed, I find half-filled cups scattered on tables, the once-white insides dyed a dreary brown from forgotten tea. Copernicus would probably starve if it wasn’t for the automatic feeder, which I probably should fill again. I took a bath yesterday; I was so lost in thought remembering that time we foolishly left the trail in the woods that the water cooled and shriveled the skin on my fingers before I even noticed. Oh look, my slippers, have a hole. Where did that come from?
As I placed the gas company notice in the mail basket, I saw a rather large pile of unopened mail there. The letters and catalogs and magazines just pile up under the slot until I trip over the paper mound, but I’m always too tired to do more than toss them into the basket on the desk. Soon I will need to buy a bigger basket.
Anyway, I don’t mean to complain. This is my life now. So thank you for ordering the gas in advance, for taking care of me when I no longer want to bother. Even in death, you are so thoughtful.
–Bit of fiction inspired by this article in The New York Times
We appear to have a ghost in the new house.
Last weekend, M and I flew to Seattle to celebrate the birthdays of two dear friends. When the weather conspired against us, we were forced to make an unexpected stop in Salt Lake City, Utah, find other accommodations because our HomeAway apartment couldn’t extend our stay and fly home a day later than planned. Luckily, our new pet sitter was willing to schlep through a blizzard to feed and care for Duncan, Dany, Arya, Brigid and George.
During our absence, however, a shade apparently decided to cause some mischief. Upon arriving at our house for a visit, the pet sitter was stunned to discover the door that leads to the garage standing wide open. This is odd for two reasons: one, we always keep it closed since we don’t want the animals going in there, and two, we specifically locked the door before we left town. So how in the world did the door unlock itself and fling open?
No one knows.
Also, since returning home, two eldest cats have begun scratching at the door to the garage, almost as if to request permission to leave (or permission to allow someone in). M swears there are no other animals in the garage — nor wolves in the walls — which leads me to wonder if the ghost has lost his/her key.
Lastly, in the two months since we moved in, I’ve noticed that certain rooms have unexplained cold spots. The previous owner built the house in 1980 and never mentioned anyone dying in it so I have no idea why these chilly areas exist. More investigation will be required.
Forty-five hours. That’s how long my latest migraine lasted. Forty-five hours of searing pain, nausea, exhaustion, dizziness, an inability to think clearly, sensitivity to light and sound, and did I mention, searing pain?
This past weekend has been rough so if I owe you an email, please accept my apology. It’s not you, it’s me.
That said, I’m comforted by two thoughts. First, some people have it a lot worse. Last year, I suffered from two dozen migraines and only a handful persisted for longer than 24 hours (though one did rake me over the coals for three straight days). And while that sucked, at least I wasn’t among the 4 million Americans who suffer migraines every single day.
Secondly, the damn thing has departed. I’m really tired. Like someone ran me over with a Mack truck tired. And my brain is bruised, which means a few of the other symptoms persist and there’s still a ghost of a headache. But, light, the pain is finally starting to fade and for that I am grateful.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This text, also known as the Statue of Liberty poem, is mounted on a plaque inside the pedestal. Photo by Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Official National Park Service.