It is said that we are all haunted by something. A memory, a song, a person. These unbidden representations of the past hover in the present effectively diminishing our ability to be fully ensconced in the here and now. I know of which I speak.
Martha’s Vineyard is a place so populated by ghosts that there are times I have to shake my head to clear it of the images it projects. I have been in love with this Island for almost fifty years. During those years, I have explored unnamed beaches, slid down the Gay Head Cliffs, and had hot dogs at Menemsha while watching the fishing boats come in. I have danced under the moon, I have run barefoot in the rain around the bandstand in Oak Bluffs. I have been wooed, romanced and loved. I have attended funeral upon funeral upon funeral as I said goodbye to loved ones.
The ghosts of the Vineyard past ride shotgun on my shoulder wherever I go, whatever I do. It has taken some time to acclimated to their disturbing presence. I have gradually grown accustomed to the changes ...Hilliard’s is gone, no nude-bathing on South Beach, trespass signs have been posted at the start of most of the dirt roads I used to explore with my husband, a native Islander. I am beginning to see the sons and daughters of my friends becoming parents themselves. The Island names I knew are being passed down to the next generation. The unbidden ghosts of the past have started to become a reassuring presence. As I build my memory muscle and can carry both the past and the present around with me simultaneously, I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I am at that unique juncture in life where the past and the present seem to intersect. The ghosts of the past and the promises of tomorrow bear equal weight.
Soon, very soon, my future, that once stretched before me with no limit, will shrink and my past will overtake it. The ghosts that were once merely frequent visitors will be more regular visitors. I will enter the twilight years of my life. However, I have the good fortune to be at a place in time and spirit where my past and my future are juxtaposed. The ghosts have not, can not, will not take over until I give up believing that life has new friends, adventures and experiences to offer on this Island that has given me so very much.