I got an email yesterday from our former neighbo(u)r in Christchurch, Dorset. Sad news. Another neighbo(u)r, a widowed, later 80s-something Swiss woman we’d all known, died quietly in her sleep at home the other night.
She had been ill for some time, so her death wasn’t a huge surprise. But her passing prompted me into certain thoughts. As you may know, that’s usually dangerous territory.
I was last here in La Clusaz in 2003. Long before that, I knew nearby Grenoble. And Chambery. And Annecy.
We accumulate so much mental “baggage” over the years, don’t we? And we never really entirely forget, do we? Again in a vicnity, much comes rushing back. When one hears, sees, or even scents, we’re struck by a familiarity. You know what I mean? It’s that feeling of visiting an old haunt.
Yet if no one you knew there is around any longer, how does it also feel? Sort of disconcerting. The scenery and towns remain, but all of the people are strangers.
You think back on those you used to know, perhaps pondering on where they are now, and how they are. You may even stop and wonder indeed if they are all still alive? If decades have passed, it’s quite possible some aren’t any longer.
By now you had also already decided to try your hand at writing some novels and infusing them with certain memories of happenings from that old haunt and with those people. And when you find yourself back on that familiar turf, memories may become all the more vivid. In a way, you keep seeing “ghosts.”
If it all gets to be too much, sometimes the best thing we can do, though, is to stop with all of the wondering and introspection….
….and just enjoy dinner. 🙂