Long Walks in the Graveyard at Night
Here’s where I confess to something that may have you thinking I’m a Goth or something of that nature, or, at least weird – (but you already knew that, right)?
I live across the street from a cemetery – an old but continuous cemetery, as in, it is still in use – fresh plots are dug there and there are many modern memorial markers (ranging from, in my opinion, the tasteful to the g-awful. Who invented the idea of colorizing headstones)? There’s this one poor girl who died young (sixteen, seventeen, I think), whose parents decided to put every hoo-haw known to man on her grave, including a big, plaster Uncle Sam.
If you do that to me, I am coming back to haunt you. I don’t care if it turns out that the people who don’t believe in life after death turn out to be right, I will *find a way.*
Then again, I don’t think my family’s too keen on my “Dig up my skeleton and make art out of my bones!” idea. (I know they’d rather Uncle Sam me… Urg).
There are some graves there for the Civil War days, though… faded/worn out limestone where names are barely visible if at all. They make me very sad because with such long-ago dates, I know that the people who knew those people, buried them and probably used to visit are dead now, too. If anyone comes to these graves anymore, they’re historians and people making genealogy records – no one who actually knew the people buried there – their smile, their eyes, their voice, their scent… And now even their names are faded on forgotten stones.
Anyway, there is no gate on this cemetery. My area is a nice little town and doesn’t have vandalism problems. Even if it had gates on the road-entrances, the “wall” is a hedge. And, no, not a hedge made of ninjas for you fellow fans of “The Tick” comics. I’ve been walking in it at night. I even got a surprise when I once saw a cop car rolling through during the twilight hour, but I wasn’t stopped from walking, which surprised me. The other night, I was on the paths and saw this incredible moon – a hairline sliver that was red… pinkish actually, but this creepy red moon… It’s pretty neat to walk in a cemetery on a summer night with the fireflies flitting about and a creepy moon. It’s quiet, peaceful, and at my cemetery, there are lots of very pretty lights people put on the graves – solar-powered lights that charge during the day to hold a little vigil at night. At least one of the graves has an actual candle that someone continually lights and replenishes.
It’s sobering to think that this is where we all end up. I mean, I got to thinking that the other night, under the sliver-moon about how these were people of all kinds of different persuasions and beliefs here (it’s an eclectic cemetery – a walk in the daytime reveals all kinds of symbols, poetry and languages)… and like it or not, whether we believe there is anything “after” or not (or like me, hope there’s something “after” but suspect that there might be a “your mind makes it real” thing that goes on in its final throes )… we all end up headed toward the same essential destination.
I mean, I think of it this way – If there is something after, you’re going to be different than who and what you are now. I can’t imagine that anything is in a static-state. Wherever you wind up, the life you live in the now is the only chance you have to live that life, because if there is another side, things are going to be different there. This is why it’s tragic when people who are selfish and cruel do not change in life (because even if they get some kind of awakening or comeuppance in the hereafter, it’s too late for the now). I don’t even know if I’m making any sense. In any case, I think a graveyard should be especially humbling for anyone who doesn’t think in “cosmic” terms, because, in the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re better, harder, faster, stronger, or smarter than anyone else – the genius and the idiot, the strong, brave person and the weakling all find their “reward” in rot. Are you really “better?” You cannot control what people think of you after you’re gone, after all. Today’s heroes may be tomorrow’s villains, or just… forgotten.
Run the race, but the finish line is just about the same when it comes down to it. You don’t get first place if everyone’s participation ribbons are the same thing as the first place ribbon. Sometimes, I think the meaning of life is death just because with the same finish line, we have to think about how we’re running the race. In the end, don’t get too proud. “Winning” at life is an illusion.
About a year or two ago was when I first ventured into to the graveyard at night. Upon coming home from places and driving past the lot to get home, my man Bob and I grew curious about the weird lights we saw there. I went outside in the dark, looking over my shoulder for cops and nosy neighbors, and stole into the cemetery to find, that, yes, indeed, people were leaving solar lights on some of the graves. I told an online AIM friend I had about it, a friend who was atheist-leaning agnostic and she thought I was brave for that and wouldn’t do it alone like I did because “graveyards are spooky.” I was all “Huh? Okay, you’re a rational skeptic. You don’t think there’s anything in a cemetery but stones and bodies buried deep. What would you have to be afraid of? I’M the slightly-superstitious person / person who has some religious beliefs / believes in the possibility of a spirit world and, though I don’t think there’s anything in that cemetery but stones and bodies, either, the remote possibility of getting haunted for disturbing the dead does actually register with me – and I’m not scared at all!”
(Maybe it’s because I disturb the bones of found dead wild animals for art all the time I haven’t felt any curses…) Unless…said curse is my life…
I just thought that was funny. I’m out of touch with said friend – she had some computer problems long ago and failed to get back to me. It’s been about a year… I’m worried she might have grown apart from me as some friends of mine do. I was putting a lot of my psychodrama on her unfairly. In a way, I think I may have experienced death a few times without actually dying, because I know what it is to have friends “grow out of me” and forget me, and I know what it’s like to lose touch with family. It is change, is all…
I remember one night last year or sometime before that, I decided to show Bob the grave-lights and we would up traipsing around the graveyard at night, making discoveries (like the over-decorated Uncle Sam grave in the back). Bob had been playing “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” out of sheer unemployed-at-the-time boredom and he Zelda-ized our little tromp. “We’re hunting Poes!” he exclaimed. I laughed so hard.
(For those not familiar with the Legend of Zelda games, Poes are malevolent ghosts found on the fields and in the graveyards at night and are, in most games, shown holding lanterns. In “Ocarina of Time,” you can catch them in a bottle and drink the things to boost (or sometimes harm) your health!!! In “Twilight Princess,” they’re demonic entities that stole pieces of a man’s soul and you have to, in your alternate wolf-form, attack and literally rip the soul out of them to help the cursed man in exchange for rewards).
In any case, if you visit me and stays on a summer evening, I might just walk you across the street and take you “Poe-hunting” beneath a spooky moon.