I mentioned to The Muse that this place seems mostly populated by people who don't live here anymore. In the nearly two generations since I left my home town for the first time, almost every structure has been repurposed. New homes have sprouted on the peripheries and older ones refurbished inside. Some have gone derelict, some derelicts, refurbished. I still navigate according to a circa 1965 map, referring to places by their old names, baffling The Muse.

I can never feel certain that my eyes aren't lying to me, that I see what's there rather than what used to be there, the ghosts sometimes overwhelming my senses. I imagine my great great grandparents inside that little house that so long ago held them. Lower Main, once shoulder to shoulder taverns and bordellos now features more new construction than old. Shadows predominate.

The Grand Otter lives here, a young woman plotting her escape, soon to join the legions of those who used to live here. Her shadows, too, will join the throng slinking along back streets, once she's gone. It seems to me that nobody ever really leaves this place. It holds the very strangest attraction, unable to ever let go of the souls enriched by once living in this place.

I think this magic relies upon the iconic identity of the place. Spring here, for instance, exemplifies the very essence of Spring. Other places exhibit many of the characteristic elements of this season, but none that I know, that I have known, so perfectly embody so many. This same sense surrounds each season here. Summer chews wheat straws and walks barefoot across dew-drenched lawns. Autumn catches fire from Indian Summer before perfectly frosting over. Winter blankets with occasional snowfall and isolating freezing fog, encouraging seasonal slumber. The rhythm of this place perfectly matches the rhythm of life.

Once a person imprints on this rhythm, the rest of the world seems trapped in tenacious arrhythmia. The seasons stretch too long or shrivel too short there, the temperatures exceed civil norms, the light smears. The darkness elsewhere seems to fear itself instead of cloaking in velvet. Perhaps the water here infects those who drink it.

I might dismiss the apparent futility of visiting here again, of walking among my own ghosts and the spirits of all those who passed through here before me and left so much of themselves behind. Perhaps I visit myself here, that self before exile nicked my youthful self confidence and hopeful naïveté. I revisit salad days and drink deep draughts of this marvelous, magical water, and recharge my weary sense of possibility.

Everything looks like upside when you live in a valley. My eyes seem inexorably drawn upward and out of here without ever understanding that this perspective never was an invitation to leave this place but encouragement to stay here, nearer the source of such empowering inspiration rather than permission to go off chasing some dream. What would I do with any dream once I caught it? The dog catches the car when he only wanted a halfway decent opportunity to chase that car.

I hold few regrets. The universe maintains its balance due to ceaseless shifting, not because it manages to hold itself still. Ghosts counterbalance our presence, holding their eternal space in ways not one of us living beings ever could. Our time will come for stasis, and not all of us are fortunate enough to know just where our eternal souls have tied themselves to, much less feel satisfied by that ghostly choice. I find myself here now, catching myself there then, spanning the stunningly narrow space in-between.

©2016 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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