The Ghost 

There is a shadow across her face from the little rain cloud above her head. She says it’s the rain drops that are falling down her face but we all know it’s tears. She says goodbye as much as she says hello, but more often than not she walks by without saying a word. Her brown hair keeps her eyes hidden from view, it drapes around her face just like the cloak of hipster clothing she wears. Brown and black and gray are her colours and she prefers to use them as camouflage. She smiles softly and winces inwardly. No one knows her name, and fewer have seen her face. Her voice is quiet, and you wouldn’t know what was happening inside her head, even if you asked.  Everyone pretends she doesn’t exist. She likes to shrink away into the shadows of her own mind. Maybe it’s her eyes, or maybe we just don’t know. I get the feeling no one asked. It’s the way she looks into the eyes of a little boy who is crying that tells us all she is human. But the only one who heard her smile were the people too far away to voice the truth.

There is a little shadow that flits down the hallway on summer evenings. I think I saw her ghost yesterday running through the empty rooms of this place. I would have waved, had I been sure. Instead I just whispered a soulful prayer hoping her voice gets heard before it’s too late for the next.

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The Moon

The moon outside is crystal clear. At least as clear as it can be shooting its way through the clouds and fighting for attention with all the white and yellow streetlights and flashing coloured signs. Honestly the red Prospectors sign is brighter than the moon, and the big white streetlight in the parklot seems to hide the moon completely. But the moon is there, humbly enough, making the black night glow with a kind of silver light. You can’t see it much for all city light, but I know it’s there. I like the moon. The way it is the only companion on late night drives through the Rockies. The way it sends light to land softly on my shoulders when the cold night air is wiping away the last tears of goodbye.

I like the moon. But it carries with it a certain fear too. The kind of unknown that lurks in the dark when you are parked on the side of some lonely road in the mountains trying to take a nap after driving for sixteen hours. It hides things, and creates shapes and shadows of the dark. The moon reflects light but it makes does so in my dark. It won’t make things seen, it just morphs trees into the goblins and clouds into the castles. It changes cool wind to whispering and the road into a river of glass. The moon is no revealer of reality, it is a maker of fantasy. A giver of nightmares and dreams both in equal proportion.  

Sometimes I swear my life is guided by a moon. Fantasy caricatures arise and dreams are born, but I do know know where I am going. I cannot see what comes ahead, I can only read between the shadows and hope the reflections off the road are not the trickery of some laughing moon. 

Airport Questions

 12:00 midnight and my eyelids sagged shut despite my increasing effort to keep them propped open. The guard at the airport hotel had finally kicked me out of the lounge after a three hour dinner and sitting on the couch for another two hours. I sat stone ridged on an airport bench with one leg through the strap of my bag and my arm through my backpack straps. The fog in my head grew till the white lights and the shinny marble floor swam with memories and dreams all mixed into one.  

This is what I wanted though, to prove to myself that I hadn’t changed, that I still was the boy who lived for adventure and preferred airport floors to bedrooms and confinement. I envisioned carpet though, or soft seats, not being stuck outside of security on marble floors under blasting white lights with the echo of riding floor polish machines. I was dreadfully thirsty, and my back ached from dragging my suitcase from one terminal to the other down a sidewalk not meant to be walked. What kind of airport shuts down their train at night?  I let myself drift off with a ten minute timer on repeat set and places against my chest. I didn’t want to be deep asleep. 

 I thought of the test they did in the 70’s where they kept people from R.E.M. Sleep till they went psychotic. Would I drive myself psychotic? Was it the 70’s? They went psychotic, it didn’t matter. 

 The night came to an end at 4:30 in the morning. Or 3:30 apparently since I forgot to change my time.

 I pulled myself off the bench, letting the pain in my back drown out the protest of my stomach and attempted to sort out passport and visa paperwork and my 3 bags. I couldn’t think straight and I let my routines and double checking assure me of next step. It was all habit. My phone in my jacket pocket, wallet in my pants pocket, the left one, passport and boarding passes in the bottom pocket, headphone cord in top right. Check departure time, walk up to the desk, passport and boarding pass. Recite the phrase asking to check my bag and print new boarding passes. Request seat change, gather passport and boarding passes and walk towards security. Jacket off, pockets emptied from my pants pockets into their respective places in the jacket. Security line. Jacket in one tray with shoes and food, and backpack in the other tray. Let them slide through as I got patted down. Jacket on first, it had the important things in the pockets, like my cell phone and wallet. Shoes next, while holding the backpack. Triple check. Gate? No. Customs. Right. Paperwork out. Recite where I live. What’s my story? Repeat. What’s my story? 

 Smile. Blink. Don’t stutter. Thank you. Walk on. 

I still couldn’t think. But I didn’t need to. I had a system, I had checks. I knew I couldn’t think, so I had mental checklists. I loved this. This complete lack of control, but complete preparedness. I enjoyed it a lot more than I enjoyed laying on a hard bench trying to keep my eyes open. But one could not come without the other. 

 6:30 am. Time to board. I stank, but thats alright. I had applied several new layers of deodorant but I doubt it helped much. I sipped the last of my Starbucks coffee, and walked to board the plane. I liked this part. Flying. I wasn’t sure if I liked it because every time it was a new experience, or because like everything else in the airport it was a known and I had system for dealing with it. 

Hypocrisy

“Your words are like knives, you spit them out with disgust. Your hate is a disease, it oozes out of your body like an infection. You don’t keep quiet, you paint the world in colour for all to see. But your words are full of distaste and bitterness. You make a show of the sacred and hold to the traditions as though they were your salvation,”

This is where we sit. Fighting between orthodox reality and liberal enthusiasm. Every day we face hypocracy and fight against it with inaction. Authenticity is as shallow as our comments, and as weak as our actions. Every morning we awake to a new sunrise and treat it just as we did the last, we propose to live as silent as possible so our words may not be used against us.

There are still ideas alive in the world that build on that true human hope, still people who believe we are worth more than just a convert, more than just a choice. There is still a hope someplace that we can belong, and make others belong. It is the core of what should be christianity. That strangers are welcomed as brothers and neighbours are as valuable as we are.

Instead of open arms today we are faced with complaceny on one spectrum and hatred on the other. We do not love, we hate. We do not move, we remain silent. Instead of neighbours and brothers I see enemies and opponents, converts or conservatives, we are projects or we are fear mongering supporters of Trump.

Each of us is human, and the core of Christianity is our own inablility to be perfect. At the core christianity admits that at our best we are no better than our worst enemy, and at our worst we are slaves and servants of all humanity.

“I Divide By Three”

I sat in the Seattle airport trying to hold the drooping skin around my eyes from pulling my eyelids shut. 26 hours awake and counting. My ipad screen full of homework reading went dim as I stared without moving through the rain covered glass.

 A man and his son came walking by, both with quivering lips and red, blinking eyes.  The older man was crying. His tears weren’t so sad as they were angry, and they weren’t so angry as they were scared. He choked back words, choked back tears and choked back the frustration in his voice. He spat out syllables, bit his own lip, and raked his hand furiously against his jeans. “I just divide by three,” the words came out in pieces that didn’t fit together. 

“What do you do with the thirds left over?” The boy’s lip quivered, and he kept staring at the floor and blinking madly. 

“I keep the one, move the other two away,” The man said, also avoiding eye contact. 

With a rush the boy hugged the older man, taking the poor old man off guard. “It’s gonna be all right?” He asked. 

“It,” The man paused. Clearing his throat. “It is.” He hugged the boy back. “I still have one third,”

Complacent 

The light from outside has the gray tint that makes my eye lids sag, though it’s only half past noon.The cool air that drifts up and down these hallways brings the tinge of Christmas cinnamon that could put any soul to sleep. There are coloured lights and funny Christmas decoration hung all around, and  stone dead classic Christmas tunes are filtering down the hall from the coffee shop. I have my notebooks and textbooks scattered around me on a big round table, though the amount of work I am getting done is little to none. There are words being tossed back and forth around me, nothing special, nothing more than people wasting time and spreading gossip.

There are so many people doing nothing. A hoard of humans wandering the halls, making friends, and being freinds, and being outsiders, and making others outsiders. There is no purpose outside of each of ourselves. We go to class, so we get /our/ grades, make freinds so /we/ don’t feel left out, do our projects because they are required. It may prepare /us/ for later work. There is no reality making us better people. If we cooked dinner, that’s a success. People have been cooking and eating since the start of the world, how is that success?

It’s a great big world out there. Full of people dying, starving, suffering, losing, and being lost. Here we are, studying so we can make the world a better place, yet our biggest loss is the goodbyes we said leaving home, and the breakup that was destined to happen.  Our doors are shut and locked, and ninety percent of the input into our lives is from peers who don’t know any different. Professors would love to help, but they are paid to teach groups, not live by students and create the norms we live by.

“It’s school,”

But we created this norm ourselves. When we became okay with mediocrity and complacency and we left behind the drive to find something greater. When we allowed gossip to run our conversations, and dating to take over our thought life, we filled all the space and didn’t leave any room for learning or caring.

My coffee sitting on the table slowly gets colder while I trace patterns on the page with my fingers. Complacency.

Do You Remember? 

“Do you remember?” Little droplets of rain ran down his hat and dripped onto his gray coat. He kept his hands burried in his pockets. 

“Yes” she smiled with her head bowed against the wind. She stood right in the middle of a puddle, letting the water lap against her boots, but she didn’t seem to mind. 

“It kind looks like…” He looked up at the sky, tracing the cloud outlines with his mind. 

“The way the it looks and smells. But it’s much too cold,” she nodded. 

“But the outlines,” 

“And all the brick buildings,” she smiled. 

“Dad said dinosaurs  used to play soccer on the fields on the other side of that funny building with the silver windows. You didn’t believe him. I think you told him dinosaurs didn’t have soccer balls,” He laughed. 

“Then the rain made rivers all down the red mud. You put a stick in one and asked dad if it would float to the ocean,” 

“Dad never did answer me. He just laughed.” 

“We all laughed,” 

“A lot,” He sighed. 

“I miss those days,” she whispered into the wind.

“I miss dad,” he whispered back. 

Growing Up/Weary

I used to think that the best feeling in the world was being alone. Being surrounded by people but having no connection. I liked the way it felt to be half way over an ocean with nothing but strangers and my headphones. Something about the noise that wouldn’t end, and the distance to the earth made me feel alive. I thrive on the unknown. The distance between me and other humans. I love being trapped in an aluminum tube shooting through the sky with a couple hundred strangers.

Like everyone else I grow older and change. I still love traveling. I still thrive off change, and I still can’t live long with the known. I feel claustrophobic  and caged when everything I see are things I have seen before, when people act like they know me.  I no longer prefer to be always be alone. I wish now for family. My family has been (almost) everywhere I have been. They know all the crazy things I lived through, and the true story behind the “He spoke Spanish” comment. I don’t have to explain the hard bits about where I am from. They get it.

I used to only dream of being alone on a plane, now sometimes I just remember back to having my little brother with me on a plane, or when we both woke up in a strange hotel room and tried to remember which country we were in. I remember inside jokes about the times we tried to buy things with the wrong currency.

I guess its a sign I getting old. The alone is wearing. It gets old always being alone, always seeing something new and trying to capture it in your memory because there will never be anyone around to bring it up. I find myself weary of my own thoughts.

Someplace In The Sky

One mile above California, 5:46pm.The sun is falling in gold and orange out of the sky. A mile high, and I watch the blue turn to fire and the clouds to shining silver. The blinking wing strobe keeping perfect time to my heavy breathing as the dry cabin air burns it’s way in and out of my lungs. The little round window reflects the aching in my soul, and the sharp contrast on the horizon is an echo of the divide in my heart. I have never been so alone as I am right now, ten thousand feet above the earth. But the clouds are the best company as I continue to ask myself the only question I can think of above the droning of the engines. Why am I most myself when I am farthest from where I am home? 

The cold keeps my skin in constant goose bumps, and my stomach keep flip flopping while my eyes slowly dry out. By now I can’t feel my toes, and my mind is trapped in an aluminum tube speeding through the sunset. 

“Let me go,” I keep whispering to myself. 

Here and there little lights turn on as tired souls try to find relief from the stretching silence by reading some worn out story. A little farther down the row a man lounges back in a first class seat sipping a glass of cheap wine and watching a action film. His Apple Watch lights up, I guess he is connected to the inflight wifi. Passing time.

I want to pass time, but I want time to stand still. Because somehow, while I am floating above the globe watching the clouds grow darker and the light fade from the sky, I don’t feel as if my world is ending. It’s as if my life sits out in the open, right next the little ball of flames sinking below the horizon. It reads like an open book, and everything that is to come seems simply fine, If I can float above a spinning world, maybe I can make it though a few more hours of chaos. Maybe I can make my next flight, make my next appointment, make the the next week, maybe I can survive till the next moment of peace. 

“Play it slower// play it slower// I don’t want this to be over,” this would be romance, if there was anyone else here. This could be falling in love, but my heart is beating alone. Every past smile seems closer than ever though, for some reason. Like it’s right there, as sharp as the line on the horizon, as bold as the red of the sunset. I miss… Everything.

My eyes continue to sag into a much needed sleep just as the captain announces our decent into Orange County California.

Twenty more minutes. There is a time deficient, even at the edge of the earth. 

Alone

Alone. 

It’s a word we don’t like, one that we pretend doesn’t exist. It’s a plague, a sickness, a sign. Stay away, he is alone. 

“Alone,” 

He spoke the word without thinking, tried to backpedal, stumbling around, wishing he could take it back. The looks of horror from the surrounding people told him it was too late. “I mean…” He tried again. “I am going…” He trailed off. “By myself?” 

Silence. 

He blinked again, avoiding eye contact, and slowly backed away. He tried to keep his head up high, prove that he wanted to be alone. He walked quickly, tried not to look like he was running away, and finally slipped through the doors and into the cold. 

Alone. 

He kept to himself from that moment on. He avoided eye contact, and hello’s were brief and hard. No one wanted to be with someone who was alone. No one wanted to remove themselves from the comfort of their group enough to be considered alone with the stranger. He didn’t have a name anymore. Those who had once known quickly forgot, and those who never knew made sure they kept their ignorance. Better to avoid any connection to the person who may drag them out of the circle of the accepted. 

It was funny how it happened, he arrived a moment too late, and first impressions kill, so here he was, doomed to the circle of the outcasts. Now when he looked back the memory was crystal clear, and he knew exactly where he went wrong. someone asked who he was going to chapel with. He tried to express his desire to join them, only to to distance himself completely. 

Alone. We judge so quickly, move so swiftly, cover our own back, and work towards our own acceptance. There is something about society that keeps those who are friendless completely alone. Some fear that it’s contagious or long lasting. 

Silence. 

It’s been many groups since that first one he walked away from, and now he expects to be alone. When he walks into a room he expects silence. He gave up long ago on looking around for a  welcoming smile or nod. Now he walks as if he is invisible, fading into corners, slipping through shadows, tiptoeing through crowds as a ghost. He is the shadow you may see from time to time in front of you in line ordering a coffee, the soft voice saying ‘excuse me” as you look around for the source. He is the unknown, the unnamed, he is the ghost of our indifference. He is alone.