Ghosts of Residents Past

A Meditation on Unseen Connections

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Years ago, I moved into a small Hollywood apartment. That first morning I woke up, stumbled into the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet to find a scrap of paper taped inside, scribbled with a quote from Einstein, “Creativity is contagious, pass it on,” a welcome message from a previous tenant.

That particular building was built in the 20s, and I could never seem to shake the feeling of history in that place or forget all the people who must have walked the halls I walked, slept in the room I slept in. There’s no shortage of history in Hollywood; much of it is documented on film, but that building, a little run-down and out-of-the-way, probably wasn’t ever home to any major movie stars. Most likely, it housed regular folks like me. Who were they, I wondered? And what did they leave behind?

It fascinates me to consider people who came before me. Not only my own family history, but also those who are connected to me by pure coincidence. No doubt my thrifted dining table used to feed another person’s family; it’s likely that my secret spot, the place I go to think, is equally cherished by a compete stranger. Those are ghosts, too, shadows of people I feel connected to, but will never see or meet.

I’ve since moved, several times in fact, but I sometimes wonder if the current resident of that little Hollywood apartment ever thinks about me. When I remember my time there, a particularly poignant conversation, or a fun dinner party, does the force of my nostalgia cause him a twinge that he can’t explain? While looking out the window, does he consider the string of strangers who used to enjoy the same view? I hope so.

(Image: Flickr user JasonePowell, licensed under Creative Commons)

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