There is a page in the middle of my atlas that I haven’t been able to look at for almost a year. My fingers turn pages quickly and my mind scurries to collect other thoughts to crowd out the ghosts that are sure to float upward as I pass the map of your state. As thoughts of the surf and the sand and the wind of a place that beheld you from boyhood beckon me back towards you I feel the panic rise. I think of the night you sat with me on the couch with that page. You drew a line with your long finger from the city to the pine barrens. Glancing at me with an eye telling me softly about their oddities. My fingers fly past that page the way a supersticious child walks faster by the one strange room at her grandmother’s house. The room where its dark and dread flows forth for no nameable reason. And so today I stopped at that page and I stared at your tiny town marked along the shore. In my mind I stared at the pictures of the boardwalk and abandoned carnival buildings you sent me with little captions and lovely explanations in a tone you forgot you ever used for me. I stared at the name of your town and said it in my mind and felt the panic rise.
And it’s been almost a year so I should be able to do that kind of thing now. I should be able to stare at a map of the place that beheld you from boyhood and have it mean nothing to me. And have it hold no more significance than any other distant state I’ve never been to before. It should hold no endearment or wistful memory for it is just a place and you are just another person from it.