There’s a Dear Sugar column that talks about ghost ships and how we all have our giant ship of the What If that never was. I can’t remember the initial question, or what led Sugar to bring up the ghost ship. I can’t even remember the exact words, only how I felt when I first read her column. I was working two part time jobs, six days a week and going extremely hard in my off hours – your liver is never as limber as it is in your early twenties. As I alternated between a proper office job and a chocolate shop, I watched a small fleet of ghost ships sail away, and I think I liked that. I liked watching my life transform in real time.
There were ships for all of the hesitations and poor choices, missed housing prospects, friendships that crumbled in post-collegiate angst. Ships for each extra drink that was probably a bad idea. I like to think about them when I’m driving (that’s when I do my best thinking) and I like to create the conversations that never happened. Sometimes I think it might be incredibly unhealthy to dwell on the past, to fixate on things that are basically irrelevant now, and sometimes I think it might be the best mental exercise possible.
And maybe I do spend too much time looking back at that part of my life, but I have to say that I do it not because I want to go back there, but because examining my present is too hard. I’m in the middle of this story, of building this ship (work with me here) that I may or may not board, and I need to let it play out before I go back and revise the plot.
So I spend my time questioning my motives – would I still have the same response? Have I changed at all? And when something else catches my attention, or the traffic suddenly becomes frenzied, I save those thoughts for another day, another drive. I will say that the ships are few and far between now. If anything, they’ve turned into ocean liners churning the middle ocean water.
Andrea Martinez is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and currently lives in Dallas with her rescue dog Ulysses. She dabbles in a little of this and a little of that.