A Farewell to the Ghost of Oxford

My last day in Oxford was spent again walking around campus, alone. I had lunch in the student union and then walked on to field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. I even strolled the perimeter of the campus as a sort of way of “peering into” another world. My last stop was here:

The Lyceum.

The main administration building on the Ole Miss campus. It’s the signature building on this out of the world place in the world. And I took a picture.

Afterward, I met up again with Van for a last goodbye. I snapped a picture of him standing outside of Alumni House and standing next to his Volkswagen Beetle. Thinking that what we had established over the past few days would be the start of a long term friendship, I hardly wondered if and when I’d see him again…

Back north, I sat at my desk and wrote a letter of thanks to Van for his kindness and generosity during my visit to Oxford. Once mailed, I began to anticipate his response.

That anticipation continues to this day because I never heard again from the Ghost of Oxford.

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A desiccated rose

Turning my head slightly to the side, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. In the car next to me, would she have smiled too?

Funny. The metaphor wasn’t lost.

The autobiography? Hasn’t been finished. You have no idea.

An outstretched hand leads the way. Following the flashlight’s beam and heading down the stairs, it’s time to go back.

Seascape ’82. That’s what the cover says; was what I saw. What a strange secret I’ve kept. All these years, I thought someone was watching. Instead, I’m the lead.

Far away, I kid myself that she’s peeked too. And me? Left rummaging in the basement, looking in a book. It’s usually kept just safely out of reach. Except for tonight.

In between the pages, the wax paper cocoon is a silent tomb. It’s a thirty-something haunting.

I put it there; then.

Now I look in the mirror. Same person, different shell. No longer of the sea, the change in seasons has parched the skin. In my hands tonight though, the rose I hold has dried out too.

Dust Motes Near the Lockers

Just floating through the air.

Sitting here now, I can almost remember thinking that I’d remember the dust motes. Emerging from the bathroom, I’d walked down the hall on the way back to class.

And just across from the entrance to the school library, there were windows which looked out into the courtyard. The Florida sun would burn through the saline air of a beach life, highlighting the particulars of that first few periods of the day moment.

And just like then, I’m alone.

Like gasoline fumes, there was something mirage-like about the dust motes floating within the rays of light.

In high school.

On a day which left no other impressions (where did they go? where do they go?), I still have that vision today. How can that be?

With my own children now at the age of me that day, I wonder what seemingly insignificant events interrupt their days. And I wonder too how much they’ll take with them.

So I sit here tonight thinking and writing because I don’t know what else to do.

Dust motes.

Driving Through Richmond

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Driving through Richmond as a youngster, something hit me. I-95 was under construction (when is it not?), and I thought, “while I’ve been living my life, so have they. Down here. People in other parts of the country were living their lives and had no idea about me.”

I didn’t matter as much as I had imagined.

Maybe that’s made a difference?