Paul Oberjuerge header image 2

That’s the Spirit

May 14th, 2021 · No Comments · France

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on nearly everyone on planet Earth, one way or another.

One outcome is physical — testing positive, exhibiting symptoms and having to confront a dire, sometimes deadly virus.

And then there are the rest of us, a global majority, who have avoided Covid the Virus for the past 16 or so months but perhaps have experienced some mental strain from being cooped up, mostly, for more than a year, worried about friends and relatives who are sick … and living the “new normal” of face masks and fist bumps, social distancing and generic paranoia.

I like to think we have done pretty well, in our little French village. I haven’t gained 20 pounds, we have lots of TV stations available to numb us and it turns out we didn’t really need a couple of restaurant meals per week to survive. We rarely spend entire days in our jammies.

Things have been pretty sedate, actually. Except for those occasional visits, here in the house, of that certain someone I sometimes can see out of the corner of my eye.

I started noticing this about the middle of last year.

The two of us would be sitting on the couch at night, probably watching English soccer, and I would feel almost sure there was a third person in our house.

When there is not.

I can’t quite make out who it might be. No face. Just a sort of movement of someone leaving a room, and I would know better if I wasn’t always a half-second behind.

The visitor is female, I think, and fairly young, and maybe someone I am supposed to know.

The spirit, if that is what it is, is not angry or unhappy. Just there until I turn to look and see no one.

Our home is in one of the oldest parts of the village, a couple of doors from the sprawling but crumbling castle/chateau, where the lords of the manor lived from about 1400 AD forward. Generations of people in this cozy part of the Herault, that is.

If something were to haunt this town, it probably would be within a few yards of where we live, across the narrow street from a garden that backs up on the “old tower” — which is about 25 feet in height and meant to be a defensive position for the locals, way back when.

When we first got here, we met a woman of perhaps 50, a North American, and she was picking up and moving. When we asked her why she said, “Too many people died.”

We didn’t follow up on that cryptic statement; I have my own imagination to fill in the blanks.

From the first time I visited Europe, 40-odd years ago, I often have been oppressed by the age of everything. Castles, houses, farms, parks, cemeteries.

In the Old World, you can’t walk 10 yards without treading on a place where some remote ancestor died or was buried.

As opposed to my childhood home in Long Beach, where nearly no one lived before the 20th century. A city where ghosts are thin on the ground.

Many people are terrified by ghosts, and I might be if they were menacing. In this case, more evidence would be required, more than a maybe-shadow that seems as cheerful as Casper of cartoon fame.

Maybe if I felt genuinely threatened by someone or something.

I get good vibes from this spirit, if it is one, and I have begun mentioning it to neighbors, or kin, who mostly chuckle. The girl around the corner. Maybe. Or is the whole of this — and I do not recall ever having a visitor from “beyond” — is my brain’s take on 16 months of pandemic?

I assume the visitor is a figment of my imagination, working overtime during a stressful moment in human history.


0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment