Sunday, April 23, 2023

Haunted House

Our memories are ghosts. The houses they haunt are us.

"Forever" Pony Cars
The beautifully maintained 1964, Ford Mustang parked on the other side of the gas pumps was being filled by its owner of similar vintage. A new Kia Optima pulled in behind the Mustang. Its Gen X driver quickly scanned his payment card, activated the pump and began fueling. Gazing in admiration at the classic pony car he said, "That has to be awesome to drive." 

"An afternoon cruise around the area is enjoyable. If I was going on a road trip I would choose your vehicle.", was the reply.

"I thought the Mustang was supposed to be an amazing car?" asked Gen X.

"For its time it was innovative and exciting. Compared to the comfort, handling, and safety of today's vehicles it is a dinosaur."

The typical refrains of, "Back when I was your age, and In the good ol' days" are both descriptive and bromidic. The memories of bygone days invite us into a fantasy which is comforting, confusing, and heartbreaking. Take a look at the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man from the movie, Ghostbusters (1984). Fun and cute while providing distraction from the current chaos. Yet escapism is fleeting even when one chooses to reside in its fairyland. A one day pass to Disneyland starts at $104.00. Reside there too long and the expense will cause not only financial bankruptcy, but the inability to navigate daily life. 

I have numerous ghosts which haunt my being. The horrific ones include, but are not limited to needing to

Sheep in Cumbria, UK
end the lives of animals and pets on the rural acreage of my youth.  Some were for sport while others were for sustenance or mercy. No matter the reason, their eyes always seemed to be looking at me. My mournfulness was blended with the arrogance of power over other living creatures. 

In my recent past, the Red River of the North floods of April 1997, have dug a deep trench which is exposed when ancient Lake Agassiz seeks to reclaim itself. Initially my wife and I moved our daughters to a secure setting with friends. That security was fleeting! My wife and daughters drove hundreds of miles in order to reside with family. From their new location the rising, unpredictable waters were stories on the television news. I remained in the town surrounded by untested dikes. The Minnesota National Guard established an encampment within the town. Yet this tenuous security failed to provide restorative sleep. I was frightened that my fatigue would deafen my ears to the evacuation sirens if there was a breach of the levee. If that occurred the town would be multiple feet deep in water within minutes. 

Current flooding on the Red

Intermingled with these images are the ones of friendship, courage, camaraderie, laughter, and hope. Numerous relationships were created and strengthened. On the fatigued and forlorn faces were glimpses of consolation and compassion. While becoming an island surrounded by raging waters, the core of people created a community. Any dream of long-term, interpersonal kumbaya faded slowly as the flood waters receded. When the crisis was past the conflicts resumed. Yet, these memories open many doors in my internal house. Abiding with the haunting are the helpful.

The memories which cruise the avenues of my life have the power which I choose to given them. Primarily, I embrace the present. This is where I live with the freedom and the foolishness for the road trip which lies ahead. 

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