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September 16, 2005: "...He told me once that he would never haunt me when he died. He had just arrived for Christmas break. We were riding home from the airport in our Buick wagon and I was sitting in my favorite spot: front and center between Dad and Darren. It was dark and foggy, but the fog wasn't very dense. It was the type of fog that looks like fluffy clouds flying by. Darren started telling me about a scary book he had read about the ghosts of pirates coming out of the fog. He said that it didn't seem like any fun to scare people and that if he were a ghost he would rather just hang out and watch "The Three Stooges" instead. Anytime I catch "The Three Stooges" while channel surfing, I stop, chuckle to myself, and spend a few moments with Darren's ghost."
For you fans of comment-reading out there, this is one that came in late - over the transom, if you will. Darren's sister reaching out into cyberspace to give me a little psychic tweak. It reminds me of the essential nature of memories - they are best when they are shared. I remember that station wagon too. It was the vehicle that ferried Darren and all his most important possessions to Colorado College when we were both freshman. My father watched as Darren and his dad loaded his stuff into his dorm room, including a wide variety of Tupperware containers. My father referred to Darren for several months as "that Tupperware kid." I still have one of the big plastic tumblers that he showed up with - it holds Peter Parker, the amazing Spider plant.
That same station wagon brought me back from Muskogee when I learned that Volkswagen Super Beetles are oil-cooled, and if you didn't check the oil for a thousand miles or so, you might just throw a rod and the engine would be null and void. Darren's dad drove us back to Colorado: Matt and I in the back seat, Darren up front riding shotgun. It was on this ride that Matt unspooled his lengthy monologue on the border town of Kanarado, entitled "Festival of the Wretched." Time and space would not allow me to do it justice here - perhaps another day.
Sometimes we forget how much shared reality we have. I get periodic reminders when boys who were once in fourth grade come up behind me with deep voices and facial hair saying, "Mister Caven - remember me?" It takes a moment, then I hit on the name - "Danny! How's school? What grade are you in?" I confess it's easier with the girls, they look more like stretched out versions of their previous selves - and the voices don't change that much.
My niece is going to be seventeen in a few months. She's starting to think about what college she wants to attend. I'm feeling pretty old, but I have my memories that I insist on sharing. Maybe I'll even send that big tumbler on to live in her dorm room.