Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Finding Stories Everywhere

My mind is constantly searching for stories. I see objects or people or landscapes and they prompt the beginnings of new narratives in my head.

On Monday, amid the sea of knickknacks, my eyes fell on the Santa figurine. I pictured leaning in to read his list and seeing only my and my friends’ names. Then, of course, all the other visitors to the mansion would suddenly disappear and every secret doorway we found would lead us further into the labyrinth. At some point we’d be separated from each other and find ourselves in different rooms filled with objects from our individual pasts. It would be a creepy story, that ultimately ended happily after a lot of fear and struggle (I’m a big believer in the happy ending).

I studied for a semester in Ireland back in 2007. If you are ever looking for a location that lends itself to stories, that is it. My dorm overlooked the River Shannon, which I had to cross to get to campus. There was a big bridge, with a couple lanes of car traffic in addition to pedestrians. Several yards further up the river was another bridge. This one was much smaller and certainly older. A little rusted, it led to a hiking path that I often found cows or sheep lounging to the side of. This bridge always struck me as the perfect dwelling place for a ghost.

In my mind, the ghost was a young woman, probably in her mid-twenties when she died. The young woman, originally from America, came to Ireland to escape the tragedies of her family’s deaths in the 1891 tenement fire in New Jersey. One night, while walking along the Shannon, she slipped and drowned. I was taking a folklore class at the time and the professor discussed how in Irish folklore it was believed that if a person was not mourned, they were doomed to walk the earth for eternity. With her family gone, no one missed this woman. She found herself forever tied to the water where she died and the bridge that was built over it.

The image of her on that bridge is still very strong in my head. Someday, I'll finish writing down her tale. In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying the new stories my imagination presents to me.

What about you? Do you ever see things that make you think up new people or picture yourself on a crazy adventure?

In other news, Squirrel Menace Update: We may need to recruit this gentleman.

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