There are no mailboxes out in front of any of the homes in our neighborhood. Everyone must go to a centralized location in order to retrieve their mail. This reality means that we only pick up our mail about once a week. Unless we are expecting a package that is being delivered by USPS.
It is a nice little walk to the mailboxes. And since the mailboxes are right by a big lake, we have been known to make a family event out of getting the mail. We put our dog on his chain and we take a family walk down to the lake and then we pick up our mail on the way back home. This is a walk that we have enjoyed for twenty-one years. The mailboxes have changed, the participants on these family walks have changed, but one thing hasn’t changed. The ghost in the sidewalk.
When we first moved into our neighborhood our oldest daughter, McKenzie, was in first grade. We would walk the sidewalks, ride bikes on the sidewalks and ride scooters on the sidewalks. Well, McKenzie would ride scooters and I would walk. For I was wise enough to know that my coordination, combined with a scooter and the force of gravity would have spelled trouble.
Very early on, McKenzie discovered the ghost in the sidewalk. No, it isn’t really a ghost. It is simply an imperfection in the concrete that has worn away, over the years, to look like two eyes and a ghostly figure. It resides, to this very day, four houses down, on the way to the mailboxes.
McKenzie always searched for the ghost in the sidewalk whenever we would venture that direction. She would make up cute little stories about the ghost. She even found the ghost a couple of years ago when she was walking with me, down that sidewalk, as I recovered from my heart transplant. That ghost in the sidewalk is one of those little things that make a neighborhood a home.
I think about the last twenty-one years every time that I walk that stretch of sidewalk. The ghost has been worn down by years of weather and countless feet and stroller wheels. The girls have grown and moved away. The dog I walk now is not the same dog I walked when we first met the ghost. In fact, I bet if McKenzie would have seen this imperfection in the concrete for the first time, as it looks today, she would have never associated it with a ghost in the sidewalk. She probably would have simply walked right over it. I am sure that it is only us, who know of the ghost’s existence, that can even look at this small concrete imperfection and say that it is a ghost in the sidewalk. Even with all that being true, to us we know that the ghost is there waiting to greet us on our next adventure.
What is your ghost in the sidewalk? What is it that makes your neighborhood a home? What current landmarks in your life serve to remind you of what has been? Landmarks that bring a smile to your face every time you encounter them? Here’s to all of our ghosts in the sidewalks.