Thursday, May 1, 2014


I wonder if we leave some part of us behind at the different places that make an impression on us. Places that become a part of who we are. Do we become a part of them as well? Is there some part of our soul or spirit that haunts (a good kind of haunts), inhabits, is incorporated into that place?

Let me explain. It has been well documented here that I take our girls to the Oxford Park. This is the park where, when it had cool monkey bars and higher swings, I grew up. When I go there now, I can clearly see us jumping towards the river from the swings at their highest possible point; I can feel the weightlessness and then feel the sharp pain from the landing on the balls of my feet. It's like younger me is still there. In a way I can feel. Maybe that's just my memory taking over, or maybe there is some part of me that has become a part of the park.

How about some science? We all know the notion that matter or energy isn't created or destroyed, it just changes form. So that there are traces of the Big Bang still floating around us. And some folks know Carl Jung's idea of the collective unconscious, which is saying something similar on a psychic level, that we are part of a larger consciousness that stretches back through time. Maybe we can tap into it.

So maybe it stands to reason that we do physically and in terms of energy, become a part of the places and things and people who help define us. It's not Halloween, but let's call it "haunting."

We all have our haunts. I've been into too many of mine in and around Oxford. I am sure there are stretches of the cross country course at St. James School where I must have left some of myself--learning to run distance, learning to breathe. The same with the C&O Canal Towpath, both for that time and for the JFK 50 Mile Race, where I thought my legs would threaten to collapse and by the finish my sweat tasted like sleep.

I am sure there is some of me, and will be more of me at Crucial Tattoos in Salisbury, as I continue to imprint images that matter onto my body. I can trace the fine black ink, where it will be on my left wrist, of the next to come.

I know there is some part of my spirit still catching its breath in John Brown's Cave in Harper's Ferry, my first experience caving. If Memorial Stadium still stood in Baltimore, and now trips with the girls to Nationals Park in DC. Speaking of DC, the Folger Theater, or our monument to monument 11-mile run from a few years ago.

I have many haunts. I take something from them and I leave something of myself.

At the moment, and maybe I always have been, I haunt and am haunted by the color blue. A little bit of the color around the moon on Laurel Street above. And maybe by Maggie Nelson's "Bluets," as she starts to give me words to describe it. Maybe blue makes me feel wildly, with too much force, but here it is:

...A voluntary delusion, you might say. That each blue object could be a kind of burning bush, a secret code meant for a single agent, an X on a map too diffuse ever to be unfolded in entirety but that contains the knowable universe. How could all the shreds of blue garbage bags stuck in brambles, or the bright blue tarps flapping over every shanty and fish stand in the world, be, in essence, the fingerprints of God?

Blue as a secret code. Instances of blue as the fingerprints of God. Maggie Nelson knows my blue. It's one of my haunts.

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