Jasper and I have spent the last 4 days in Corvallis. Jasper got to meet with some folks in the engineering school and profession. He likes OSU, he likes Corvallis, and he even likes the rain. This is good. If he attends school here, he will have to like the rain. For me, Corvallis is full of ghosts.
The university has grown. 12,000 when Jim was enrolled in grad school here, now at 25 K and pushing for 35 K in the next 5-10 years. There is a swimming pool now where our old ultimate frisbee field lay. I swam. I feel Jim, riding his pink bike across a soggy field, disc in hand, water spraying from his rear bumper. Coming in for a wet but jolly “welcome home from work” kiss before practice started. Ghosts.
More students mean more housing. A few of the places have been razed with new dorms and town houses replacing the old cut up houses. The little white house where Jim and I lived when we married still remains tucked into a corner of an alleyway. It has a fresh coat of paint. A new VW bug is parked in the driveway where Jim’s old mossy Toyota lived until we sold it at a garage sale. Our landlords were in failing health 25 years ago, so must be long gone by now. Ghosts.
I took Jasper into the basement of the Geology building. The list of staff revealed that all but one have changed, not even the secretaries remain. But, there are still rock sample drawers stacked in the corner, and grooves on the floor from generations of hallway chair races. Jim’s old office is still across the hall from the computer lab. Sleek desktop machines have replaced the old Mac-in-a-Boxes. Ghosts.
Many of the same downtown businesses still exist. We had lunch at the Old World Deli where I played Renaissance music on Sunday afternoons. The 1st Alternative Co-op now has 2 locations, Peak Sports takes up a large chunk of commercial real estate, and you don’t have to wait outside for the line into New Morning Bakery. The Majestic Theatre probably still shows too many previews, but I don’t think their movies are 99 cents. There is now covered bike parking all over town rather than plastic bags on everyone’s bike seats. Progress, and ghosts.
Today we leave for a day at the coast. 25 years ago, Jim took me to the tip of Cape Kiwanda on the 1 year anniversary of my sister’s death. He knew, without asking, exactly what I needed in my grief. Today, I will toss some of Jim’s ashes into the Pacific from the tip of Cape Kiwanda. He is not here to hold me in my grief. Ghosts.