This morning I walked two miles to a meeting – two miles on a route where I had to watch out for myself because on this route no one in a car or a truck or a train ever really sees pedestrians making their way from one side of the street to the other.
Then why take that walk?
Because this morning I went looking for ghosts.
The buildings here are old. The sidewalks and roads are breaking apart in some places and just below the surface in other spots you can see the bricks- red and rust colored – that once paved all of the roads down here. They’re still down there under all of that gray…buried alive years and years ago.
On some of the streets I crossed over I saw old railroad tracks that run for a few feet and in some places and half a block in others.
Now instead of going somewhere else the tracks disappear into the sides of new buildings with names instead of numbers and electronic locks securing their doors instead of padlocks and chains.
I’m drawn to those deadlines and when I was young I used to have nightmares about lost trains and the dead people who still rode them.
I drifted by rows of small tool and cabinet supply stores- the type of stores that contractors and builders go to where the inventory is stocked in boxes instead of shelves and there are clocks with faces on the walls instead of digital clocks on desks.
These buildings have picture windows that face a hillside that was once covered with trees and now face a freeway.
Some of the small stores still have black and white tiled floors or fancy carvings above their doorways that tell me once long ago maybe ladies bought hats here and maybe a druggist mixed and dispensed his medicines over there and sold penny candies to the kids who once long ago went to school in a building whose foundation is buried under a parking garage.
This place must be full of ghosts I thought- how could I not find one?
It was a lonely and quiet walk and at the end of it I guessed I hadn’t seen any ghosts or caught the echoes from the long gone sawmill that shaped the roads and buildings that are here now.
Even though it was sad was a sad and uneventful walk I’d decided I’ll take again.
And then as I went by the last empty building, just before I went into the warehouse under the bridge I realized as I caught sight of my pale almost transparent reflection in a dusty window of a closed down store…I may not have seen any ghosts…
but I did learn something
Now I think I know what it feels like to be one.