Up until a week ago, the only ghost story I could tell with any real conviction was the time when my Buddha dog, Gunnar, briefly turned into a demon and barked ferociously at someone (or something) I couldn’t see while walking upstairs—backwards. For folks who knew Gunnar, it remains a pretty compelling tale. I tell the story every chance I get and stand firm that the only plausible explanation for his behavior was that a ghost was haunting our stairwell. Yeah, right. I believe my newest ghost, however, may be even scarier (or creepier, depending on your viewpoint). You see, a man I buried almost two years ago called (okay, he wuss texted), and asked me out (that is, if you consider “I have an extra ticket . . .” a proper invitation).How did I react to this dead man’s proposal? Was I cool, calm, collected, and just a wee bit coquettish? I may have pulled off my reply in a manner that didn’t give myself away entirely, but let’s just say that I’ve been howling at the harvest moon ever since he contacted me.
Will entered my life three springs ago, and it’s safe to say that I fell hard. Part of the blame went to our excessive drinking; another chunk I attribute to his very persuasive, “I love you’s” on the nights he stayed over; but to be perfectly frank my stupidity is the main reason I got sucked in.
So I killed him.
I started by going to a therapist who helped me realize that what I was feeling was actually an addiction instead of love. I sought out other penises. I stopped pretending to listen to my friends and began taking their advice to heart.
At first, I continued to reach out to Will just like every crushing girl does. Of course men see right through our carefully orchestrated attempts at having “reasons” to reach out with a phone call or text. To his credit, Will always responded warmly without taking the initiative himself. After all, by the time I had started mapping out his death sentence he had a girlfriend. I had helped him get that very same girlfriend by writing his Match.com profile for him. And, while I know for a fact that he cheated on her at least once (I bet you can guess how I know that, now can’t you?), he was definitely a dying man. I was moving on.
Here I am now dealing with a man who should be DOA in my book. Instead, he is a very dangerous spirit who just happens to be taking me to the theater tomorrow night.
What it comes down to is this: I’ve had two years to grow up, date other men, fuck around, and move on. And instead of feeling strong and ready to face a man who used to play me like a marionette, I’m pretty much exactly where I was the night three years ago when I took Will to a party and was dazzled by his charisma and charm. I wanted him then, I want him now and I’m worried that I don’t have the tools to make it happen.
So, what’s a girl to do besides get a pedicure, try on the thirty dresses hanging in her closet and shave her legs on the night of the big event? God, I wish I knew.
Will once told me that I would never be his girlfriend. He did this while hanging out of his window smoking a cigarette in his downtown loft apartment. He tried to make it a pretty nonchalant conversation, and I let go of it at the time—after all I was there ready to crawl into bed with him, wasn’t I? At breakfast the next morning I tried to choose my words carefully, “Remember what you said last night? How I would never be your girlfriend? Well, I disagree. We have the kind of connection that most couples wish they had. We talk and play and make love so incredibly well. I hate to break this to you, but I already am your girlfriend. I’m your love.” At this point, Will lowered his eyes and said nothing.
I’ve tried. I’ve tried to rid a man from my system who used to sing to me with tears in his eyes. I’ve tried to forget about that ninety degree day he came over to my miniscule kitchen and cooked an authentic Caribbean meal for my book group. I only wish I could purge from my memory the excitement I felt coming home from work to find him still lying naked in my bed. That night we slipped on ice together and fell as one to the ground? It’s etched in my brain. I cannot help it.
Sometimes we all wish for things we cannot have. Other times we wish for things because we know to the core of our being that they could be exactly what we long for—if only . . . . Can the stars align this autumn and bring Will and me together? Can reignite a passion that wasn’t fully realized that first time around? Or, more likely, can I finally take a breath and stop screaming once it becomes all too clear that this ghost is only a projected image onto a mirror, my dreams of what we could be are merely wisps of water vapor, and this haunted house will be torn down by Thanksgiving.