I love going through empty houses. I got to hang out with my friend this week who’s moving. I loved seeing her new house wide open with it’s walls laid bare and the sound of my voice echoing through it. I always get this strange feeling, like there are ghosts of possibility all around me. I can’t help but imagine what it would look like if I lived there. What would my new life in these rooms be? There’s something mystical about the place before it has toys strewn all over and finger prints on the walls. It’s a house without a plot.
I feel the same way about yards of fabric before that first snip. There are so many could-bes before those stitches go in. And blank journals. When I hold a fresh new notebook I think of all the ideas it could contain and I just get this awed feeling. Sometimes this feeling makes it hard for me to use fabric and to sully the blank of pages of my journals with ink.
I also love old things. Old books, especially. They have ghosts too, but they’re different ghosts. Spirits of what-were. I imagine long-gone authors and their ideas, their notebooks filled with ink and splotches and coffee stains. Old dishes make me feel nostalgic for a mother who’s gone now, her children might be gone too. All trace of her is lost in our world but her casserole dish is now in my cupboard.
Today in the library I deleted books out of the catalogue. Then I stamped them with a “Discard” stamp. Made me feel sad. All these books and characters leaving the library. Most of them are falling apart and room has to be made on shelves for new books, and some of them were just over the elementary children’s reading level. They’ll be given away and donated (I took a few myself). But, because I’m a writer it was hard to see those books boxed away. My greatest wish right now is that the novel I’m working on will be published and land on library shelves and be checked out by readers. Today I was reminded that even if my dream comes true, there will still be a day when that book will get stamped and boxed away. No matter what we do, or accomplish this world is temporary. Just ask the Pharaohs. Their pyramids are still there but they’re not. They didn’t become Gods just because they built something grand and huge.
It’s a depressing thought, but it reminds me that right now is what we have. Houses are meant to be lived in, and journals are meant to be written in. The mess of this life being lived is what is really sacred. And while I do have hope there is something beyond this life, I also realize that the fingerprints I leave behind will all fade eventually. The things that last are the love, kindness, and goodness that we pass down, and hopefully it continues to get passed down and maybe someday some distant grandchild of mine will find my novel in a thrift shop and pick it up because they love old books, and that will be a little of me even though they don’t know it.