Thursday, September 3, 2009

GHOSTS OF TWO MARIE'S

Have you ever seen a ghost?

Click and check this out -- it's short -- Ghost captured on camera.

Is it an apparition, or an over-exposure (or under-exposure), of a real person in her white work-outfit, crossing the room?

I think my friend Marie A., or her ghost visited me last year.

Neat-featured Marie, brown-kinky curly hair, slender, 5.4 ... we got to know each other at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School. We both took Margaret Craske's morning class. Marie was part of Craske's inner circle, a group who followed the teachings of Meyer Baba, an Indian mystic and spiritual master.

When Marie suggested I attend a meeting, I didn't say "no way," but that's what I felt when I politely changed the subject.

Her dancing was dull, but Marie's pursuit of technical perfection was extraordinary. Later on, I hired her to help me rehearse my company, and helped her get a job teaching ballet at Swarthmore College. I knew Marie was seeing a psychotherapist; knew she was in love with a woman. When was the last time we spoke?

Anyhow, something jolted me awake. I sat up in bed! Marie was downstairs in the street below. She was calling to me, calling loudly. I got out of bed and raced to the window. The street was dark. I couldn't see her but I knew she was down there, calling, waving. What was wrong? What terrible thing happened? Someone died? She wouldn't be calling me if it wasn't urgent.

I realized I'd been dreaming. I went back to bed. Before writing this post, I googled her -- "ballet teacher" credits came up. I still don't know where she is, or if she's alive, but she was calling to me.

Mrs. Marie P. is the mother of our eye doctor. I'm seeing him next week. I've tried, but I can't rationalize away the chilling, strange thing that happened.

Every year for twenty years, when JC and I had our annual eye exams, I'd chat Mrs. P. and arrange house seats for her, when JC's was in a show.

Tiny, less than 5 feet tall. she was always exquisitely dressed in the very latest styles, with her red hair sprayed, manicured looking. (Gee, was it was a wig? I never asked or wondered about her real self. I just accepted the face she presented to the world.)

Aside from running her son's office, Mrs. P. was renovating their four-story brownstone -- restoring everything to its former glory -- doorknobs, molding, floors, fixtures, outlets, couches, pillows, statuettes in the waiting room, the front door -- a visit to the eye doctor was a visit to the 1890's.

A few Septembers ago, when I phoned at nine a.m. for an appointment, no nurse or service answered. It was too early. I didn't leave a message.

Our fax machine buzzed. A message rolled in ...a picture of a tombstone, chiseled marble, words on it -- her name, dates ...

It was a shock. When I reached the doctor's office, they said Mrs. P. had died during the summer. No, they hadn't faxed us. In fact, nobody on the staff had sent faxes that morning. At my behest, they called the tombstone people. No, they had not sent a fax.

I can't get over the feeling that Marie P. wanted me to know that she was gone. When I see her son the doctor next week, she'll know I'm there, and enjoy my admiration of the work of art she's made of her home.

So do I believe in ghosts? No. But I think Marie A. and Marie P. were contacting me.

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