Friday, 17 December 2010

on living with ghosts

We have ghosts in our attic. And actually in our cupboards, on top of wardrobes, under the beds, anywhere you could squeeze a cardboard box: swathed in bubble wrap and masking tape, they are the ghosts of lives past, present and perhaps yet to come.
We've just moved house, one reason blogging has been shamefully light for the last few weeks: I've done nothing for weeks but frantically shovel things into boxes, and then frantically shovel them out again at the other end. But it has been an unexpectedly revealing process.
We had the usual pre-move debate about what could legitimately be thrown out. My pack rat husband clung indignantly on to vast piles of junk: broken stereos, miles of unidentified cabling, mystery bits of plastic, old band tour Tshirts with holes in.
Whereas I clung indignantly on to vast piles of different junk: teenage diaries, pages of toddler scribbles, photographs of people I haven't spoken to in 20 years. And of course, almost everything we'd jointly refused to get rid of went straight from the loft at the old house to the loft in the new one, doubtless to stay there undisturbed until we move again.
Really, we should throw out anything that hasn't been opened in six months. But the trouble is those ghosts. Because this isn't just useless clutter: this is useless clutter with meaning. It represents the lives we haven't lived, and would either (in a parallel universe) quite like to live or are quietly grateful we didn't.
That's why I need three skirts that I could only wear if I lost half a stone, and a pile of love letters from someone I didn't marry, and a boxful of baby things just in case: it's why my husband needs his mouldering cricket pads, despite not having played cricket for at least 15 years, because apparently this summer he might.
Ours are for the most part friendly ghosts: they don't haunt us from behind closed doors. They're just other lives we might have led, which for the most part remind us that we quite like the life we chose. I think they're going to be happy in this house. I think we are too.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, missed your posts, glad you just moving house. Tell your husband he will play cricket again, just needs to find a little time one spring and a friendly team, it happened to mine and he's not playing every weekend (they've got better players frankly) but he's getting the odd game and loving it. I, meanwhile, have taken up tennis with "rusty rackets" (describes me perfectly) coaching sessions, not played since school and do you know what? there are lots of us around, played sport, left school or college, stopped playing sport, got to 40 and started playing sport again and we're not that bad actually, plus it's fun. Merry Christmas and Happy New House!