There’s a ghost who is by my side on the plane. I can feel him there – he’s got headphones on, and sometimes he looks out the window. He smiles at me, sips his drink (ginger ale), sleeps. He smells slightly sweet and spicy, honey mixed with clove and pine. He loves to travel with me. He holds my hand, sometimes. I feel him there, a solid, safe, warm presence; I could lay my head on his chest and drift into peace. I know his heartbeat. I thought that meant I understood his heart.
He walks by me in the airport. He sits beside me at the concert. He roams through the hotel room, checking out the view and laughing at the sound of the squeaky door.
He’s not real; I created him. He loves to travel with me, enjoys what I enjoy, delights in being with me sharing it all, understands how I feel, and experiences things with me. When I am reveling in being together and feeling content, so is he.
We create people in our own image … and it isn’t real. None of it. I’ve discovered this. All we can do is trust that they feel the same way we feel, but I’ll give you a peek at the end of this chapter: they don’t. People never feel the same way we feel. They feel how they feel. They see what they see, and they experience something completely different, even while sitting on the same damn plane. They can be sitting there angry or frustrated or bored, when we’re at our most content, feeling so connected – they can surprise us later with “no. It wasn’t special at all.” Oh yes – for the romantic hearts in the back row who don’t want to believe this- they truly can.
All we can hope is that they communicate how they feel, with frequency and honesty. Ha.
A friend flew me out to Cincinatti to see him conduct Empire Strikes Back to picture with a brilliant orchestra. To hear the music not down low in a cinema mix, but up front as the star (movie was captioned so the dialogue didn’t have to compete) changed me. Yoda’s theme, not delicate as usual but HUGE, changed me for good.
My friend’s generosity changed me. He put me up in an hotel called the Renaissance, which oddly enough, I had stayed at in l.a. long ago with the love who inspired my ghost.
I took my ghost on a walk around the city, and we had ice cream together. Ice cream with a piece of pie on top, because it was insane, and why not.
I am not sure how long the ghost will stay, but I know that the kindness of friends mellows the grief. It’s turned into a familiar thing like a small belt around my chest, where it used to be a ship’s anchor.
Yoda’s theme used to have a hint of wistfulness to it, of longing, of reaching for something greater that was delicate and fragile. It tore into my heart in a deep place no other piece of music (so far) could reach.
This time, live, and with a brilliant conductor putting his heart into it, it was completely different. It had power lightly held in check. It was majestic grace, it was certainty. It held a note of exultation, of strength that doesn’t question but says, “watch this!” While it gleefully, smoothly lifts a ship out of the swampy ground without faltering.
The music said, “Trust me.”
Was it different, or was I different? Both, I think.
I heard it with my ghost sitting beside me, and in my heart I asked him how he enjoyed it. I never heard his answer, because my own answer mattered more, now. Yes. Enjoyed it past expressing, and was transformed.
Does the piece of music read us, or do we read the music? Both, I think.
Yoda’s theme used to hold a question for me. It reached. It wasn’t sure it would ever find what it sought with such powerful longing. I cried to feel the yearning in the notes.
This time, it answered. It held inevitability and solidity. It took my ghost away, and said “Trust.”
I cried this time in relief. I cried because the door to the kyber crystal chamber had closed, and I held my own answer gleaming green in my hand. I cried because I’d never see that chamber again.
And somehow, with my blindfold on, I feel now where to strike. I feel the way forward. I know (by the way, in Hebrew “Yoda” means “I know”-)
I know that all is as it should be. The solidity, the safety I felt when someone else held my hand, or when I could feel him near- I have that now inside my chest. On my own. Yoda’s theme took my question and smiled as it closed a door deep in my chest.
It is sealed, now. The answer is “trust me.”
I’ve received more than I know how to receive. I have been grateful more than I’ve ever been before. From parents to friends to complete strangers, the generosity of people is teaching me that I still have so much to learn about love.
And learn, I will.