Ghost Town

I saw a ghost last night. I was walking home, in a hurry because of the cold, lost in thought. I turned down the wrong street, and almost before I realized it I was standing in front of the old apartment. Suddenly it was 1991, a glorious spring day with the sun shining brightly. Fran and I were apartment hunting, the excitement and promise of change only partially dulled by the disappointing results of our search. We weren’t worried; we knew we’d find the perfect place eventually. And we did, a cute little apartment on the West Side, where we lived happily for almost two years. I felt a little stab of sadness as I came back into the moment. Fran moved to Rochester years ago because she couldn’t find a decent job in her field in Buffalo. Things change, that’s the way of the world, and I've grown accustomed to the ghosts. Every day I see shadows in the corner of my eyes, memories of places and people and experiences from my past. These shadows live where I lived, where I played, or fought, or laughed, or sang, or cried. They don’t have to follow me. They’re already everywhere I go. I used to think I was just overly sentimental about the past, unable to live in the moment and hope for the future. And maybe that’s true. But I think it’s also because Buffalo has a lost generation... an enormous piece of itself missing as a result of the exodus of creative, innovative, imaginative people over the last few decades. Things have been turning around for the past few years, and that's great, but there just haven’t been enough new experiences to distract me from my ghosts. I think a lot about the way I feel about Buffalo and Syracuse, two cities that should be my home yet somehow aren't. We share a complicated relationship - none of us are easy to love with our fundamental flaws and lack of a real plan to address them. But that’s how it is with something you love... you don’t just give up at the first sign of adversity. You roll up your sleeves and get in there fighting, doing your best to wish those ghosts good riddance.

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