I have wasted the entire day waiting around for Imaginary Keith to get home from work. With the ghost sitting in that jar in the back closet, it’s been impossible to even think. I keep sneaking into the closet to sit next to the jar, but the agreement before Imaginary Keith went off to work was that I would do nothing until he got home. The ghost in the pickle jar is too exciting, and neither one of us wants to miss out on anything. And so I wait.
You’d think that after all the waiting I’ve done in my lifetime I would have become good at it. Health, strength, success, and wealth, I bet if you can name it, I’ve waited on it. Love, respect, trust and kind words, I think the list could go on forever. I sat on the bench for years, waiting to be played, and am forever sitting around, waiting for the right words. I once stood in a sports store for five hours, waiting for my son to make up his mind about a pair of roller blades. Five hours in the same aisle, wondering what kind of indecisive man my son would grow up to become, as the store clerks looped round and round until they finally grew tired of us and we became invisible.
Maybe invisibility is all that ever comes of waiting. Maybe you simply disappear if you’ve sat around waiting long enough, or that it just feels that way, as everything and everyone else around you just passes by without a glance.
So like I’ve said, I’ve been sneaking back to look at the jar and just sitting there, staring at it without saying a word, trying my best to keep my promise. Promises are important, I think. A person should do everything they can to keep their promises because if you make one, you can bet that there’s someone somewhere sitting around just like me, waiting on it to come true. I think people spend a lot of time sitting around waiting on promises. Probably too much time, but then that’s the thing with waiting, it’s hard to know when to stop.
But you know, this time maybe the waiting will do some good. I don’t think it’s going to end up anything like the time I waited on some girl to glance up, or for the phone to ring, or that one night I waited for hours for that bus to show up in the rain. This time it felt like something was changing. Sitting there in the dark, staring at the jar as I tried to catch some movement from the ghost trapped inside, I found myself thinking of what it’d be like to be trapped in a jar myself. What would that be like? Like having your world unravel all around you? Is that what it felt like? Like the universe had somehow lured you in and threw the lid over your head when you weren’t looking? I hadn’t thought of it until now, but the last couple of years of my own life had felt a little like I was in a jar. Like my body was trapped on the inside while the rest of me floated around lost and loose on the other side, beyond my reach, drifting further and further away.
It was hard sitting in the closet with the ghost after that, and I was glad that I’d made the agreement with Imaginary Keith to wait. When he got home, I’d tell him what I’d been thinking, and he’d know what to do. He’d know what to do about the ghost in the jar, just like he’d know what to say. I don’t admit it often, but he’s better at that sort of thing then I am. He really is. It’s like he lets things just go in one ear and then right out the other, but somehow never ends up looking like he’s not listening. It’s the kind of thing that makes you think you could never trap him in a jar, no matter what you tried.
So I spent the entire day waiting, wondering what I would say to the ghost when Imaginary Keith got home. I walked around the house, trying to imagine what the ghost was doing here in the first place, thinking that maybe that would help with the waiting. I’ll tell you, it was a long day. I didn’t think it would ever end. I think the highlight was when I discovered that my head was only slightly smaller then a jar of animal crackers we had sitting around the house. I held the jar next to my own head, and tried to imagine being in there somehow, trapped, looking out.
So yes, I think the waiting today did some good. I’m suddenly thinking more about what I’ll ask the ghost. I’ll be more careful with my questions. I’ll imagine my own head inside that jar of animal crackers, and try my best to keep some perspective.