The “Community Chalkboard” in Charlottesville, Virginia. Every morning the board is wiped clean, and fresh chalk is left so any citizen can walk up and freely express him/herself.
I arrived in Charlottesville at 6pm on a Friday night – my final weekend of the trip. I was excited it worked out that way. I knew the Downtown Mall would be buzzing.
And yet…it was hard to be back in Charlottesville. I left a lot of memories there, more than I’d realized. I dated a girl who lived there for over two years, and every corner I turned, there was that forgotten version of myself, right where I’d left him. Drinking tea. Making jokes. Holding hands.
I’ve read enough Poe and Dickens to believe that certain cities can be haunted. But what do you do when a city is haunted by…yourself?
We all have these places, don’t we? It’s not always a “bad” haunting. Like when you walk back into your childhood home. Or finding the dog-eared, margin-filled novel you loved in high school. The sudden confrontation with your past stirs the chemicals in your brain, sends them shooting down your spine.
The Downtown Mall was bustling. Wave after wave of American-Eagle-wearing high school students threatened to drown out the good vibes. But like all high school students, they were pretty much irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Street musicians were strumming. Artists were painting. I passed out my cards, focusing 100% of my energy on every new person I met, and I felt pretty damn good.
I met a college friend for dinner. We hung out until about 11pm, then headed north to her house in Culpeper- my jumping point to DC the next morning. I thought about excusing myself for a moment. What would I write on that giant chalkboard? What would I confess? But then I thought… “screw it.”
To lay a ghost is so 19th century.