The wind kisses my fingertips like we’re old friends meeting again. A dog’s collar tinkles like Christmas bells behind John Mayer whispering “now I’m free…free fallin’…” through my headphones. Green leaves reflect in the window pane in front of me, and through it sits a gray-haired gentleman. His fishermen’s hat lays on the table in front of him, covered in pins from a lifetime of experience I long to have. I wonder how to get myself out of this town, how to collect a scrapbook of memories on a cap like he has. Is free falling losing track of life in the mundane mess of things until you’re neck deep in a picket fence and tax deductions, or is it running away for a weekend into the mountains without looking at your bank account just to say hello to the leaves again? Fall in Florida is funny. It’s a friendly flirt that runs away into the summertime every few weeks, and you’re left with too many scarves and a sweat-beaded forehead. I’m too nostalgic to study science. DNA exists even in fickle Florida and right now I want to leave that world behind. The hum of traffic behind me taps at my shoulder, reminds me of my itch to disappear into small towns no one knows the name of, where walking is the primary mode of transportation. I feel most alive in the namelessness of a new town, where every face you meet is one you imagine you’ll never see again. There’s nothing to be afraid of there, no standard that’s been preset, no expectations to reach for. I’m breathless with exhilaration, staring in the face of someone who knows nothing about me, has no preconceived notions. However I behave is how I behave; is me. There’s nothing to compare it to, no Carla that I’m not living up to. Sometimes the old Carlas really make a mess of things. They rise up from the dead and haunt me, remind me what I was meant to be, what I could have been, what people wanted from me, every disappointing aspect of what I’ve become. It’s nice to go somewhere and just be Present Day Carla, the Carla that woke up this morning. There’s nothing to apologize for because this is the only Carla you’re ever going to meet. How refreshing.
But right now I’m here, the same old coffee shop, a familiar table, being teased by a wind that is only a whisper of the one I’m wishing for. The leaves here are only brown—there are no archways of glittering gold trees to drive through, no King Midas kingdom to get lost in. I get lost in my normal life. My normal apartment. My normal schoolwork. My normal TV shows. My normal coffee shops. My normal routine. And the ghosts keep coming in this haunted town.