The Ghosts are My Friends
The ghosts are my friends. Before they were my friends, they were my mother’s friends, and her mother’s before that. They wait patiently every year for the first footsteps creaking along the front porch that signaled that the house would once again be full of life. The ghosts don’t talk, but I know they love us. They watched as my family grew from my mother and her siblings, to their spouses and then to my cousins. They watched my aunts and uncles fall in love under the apple trees and they even danced under the tents during my parents wedding in the backyard. They cheered on the softball game from the time when it was just myself tossing the ball to when we were easily able to field two teams. They helped us shuck the corn that we bought from the farm stand down the road; then, they sat at the dinner table while chaos ensued in the form of flying food and childish laughter. When we came biking down the pebbled driveway, hair tousled by the rough ocean and covered in sand, they came skipping out to greet us with the promise of shade and cold lemonade waiting just inside the kitchen. At night, they were always there to comfort us with the sound of the waves breaking just down the road and the flashes of lightning bugs outside the window. The ghosts gave me the place they knew. When I was young I would skip through the cornfields behind my house with the stalks towering over my head. When I wandered a little too far away, persuaded by the thrill of adventure, they were the ones who taught me how to listen for the ocean to always be able to find my way back home. When I was sad they told me about the secret room at the top of the windmill down the road, the one with the window at the top and a view of the ocean that never failed to put a smile back on my face.
As I walked up and down the halls, breathing in every last drop of the scent of sunscreen, mildew and salty ocean breeze I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to them when this place was empty, walls torn down and foundation ripped from the earth. It is a house that has seen too many years and the next owners will surely strip it to the bone and rebuild it, probably into something that looks like the new mega mansions that now surround our lone piece of history. What the ghosts don’t know is how much this place has changed, how the cornfields we used to play in have been replaced with sprawling homes and the post office at the end of the street has been demolished to make space for a shiny new parking lot. How am I supposed to tell them that everything they loved about this place has disappeared? That even that secret spot at the very top of the windmill no longer exists. That the view from the window, the one of miles of open land meeting the sea, is now just a view of the bright amber shingles of a new build not even 20 yards away. They see my grandmother laying in her bed and know just as well as I that our time is coming to a quick end. I close my eyes and wish that they could see me get married under those same apple trees and meet the sandy smiles of my children. I wish that they could give my children the same thing they gave me, memories of a place that’s untouched beauty made the perfect playground.