Ghost City

Posted on May 30, 2011 by

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by Kyla Marshell

I don’t know what it’s like for other people. Other people in other places. People who are ten years older. People who grew up in one location. People who remember little. People with thicker skin.

I walk my beautiful city, beautiful with its trash, its stink, its noise, its cat-callers, its murder, its potholes, politicians, its everything overpriced, and its brownnesses, its sun, its camaraderie, its stick-to-it-tiveness—and on so many corners, so many reminders of past lives, lives months or years old. So many reminders of old loves. Dead loves. People and lives gone, not here, not now in this moment.

He reaches for my hand just as we pass the place where I had a second date with someone I no longer know. And I am reminded how New York is a ghost city. How once, right there, was my friend or lover, our bodies slung around a bright street corner, and now, there’s just wind, shadow, lamplight, dead leaves, cigarette butts, gum.

Every street and cross-street seems to mean something. Every place you’ve ever visited has tacked to it a special memory of something, someone. And those places mean ever so much more when the people with whom you created the memories, the people who once so happily haunted your life, go on to haunt somebody else.

When people pick up their wings and fly far off from you and everything they ever were to you, you look for new loves to fill those gone people’s seats. You look desperately, really. You search like the first day of college–you can’t be left alone. You won’t.

I met a girl last month whom I knew I could become best friends with. A little spark clicked its heels between us. And then nothing happened. Nothing happened. Again and again, nothing happened.

New York, as much as we are stuck to her, is a city for the ephemeral. The ephemeral friend, or job, or relationship. People come and go so quickly here! Dorothy exclaimed about Oz. The same is true for this very real place. People come, then go, and rarely do they say goodbye.

Is this what it’s like for you? My lover said he wants to go elsewhere in this country, this world, zap his memory, build a new colony of memories in a new place. He wants to start all over, so that every time he passes the third floor of his building going up or going down, he doesn’t have to remember when he punched the cement wall, when he was so angry at a different woman, a woman with whom I will surely, one day, cross paths, that he punched a cement wall, so that he can lose that dark scar still brooding on his fist.

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