On August 10, 2021, in Nashville, TN, I (somewhat impulsively) got a ghost tattooed on my right bicep. I am of the strong opinion that tattoos do not need to have meaning—after all, an ugly tattoo with deep meaning is still an ugly tattoo—but this one does have a bit more meaning than some of the other tattoos I’ve accumulated since turning 18. A lot of people express disbelief that I have any tattoos at all; they believe that it’s far too permanent and I’ll no doubt come to hate every piece I get. For clarity, I don’t get tattoos because I think I’ll never change or that I’ll love the same piece of art forever.
When I was 18 I got a cloud tattooed on my ankle, and I can say with certainty that if I had to start all over again at the age I am now (22, as of 10/20/22) I probably wouldn’t get that same tattoo in that same place, but that’s the whole point, at least to me. My 22-year-old self would not get a cloud on my ankle, but my 18-year-old-self would, and did. I have a piece of my 18-year-old self on my body forever, a ghost of my past self etched into my skin permanently.
When I got my ghost tattoo, I etched a piece of my 20-year-old self on my skin, and forever enshrined the memory of that personality, with all of the struggles and desires it held at the time. The ink in my skin is now fully healed evidence of my own previous existence. That is what ghosts are to me–evidence of previous existence. These echoes and artifacts are the subject of this week’s issue, in honor of Halloween and all things spooky and scary.
Someone’s presence can linger long after they’ve left a room. “Holy Ghost,” a powerful poem from Kiki McLaughlin, explores the haunting aftermath of losing someone you once revered, and the painstaking process of rebuilding what was lost, from the ground up, on one’s own terms. And before you can rebuild lost love, sometimes you need to burn it all down, like the speaker in Cheyenne Butler’s poem, “Sheets,” who is tormented by the scent of an ex.
Ghostly love continues, and even thrives in “Lady of the Lake,” a haunting love story from Jasmine Wang, about the sacrifices we make and the way old love comes back in new ways. In contrast, Bailey Middleton expertly navigates rage and revenge in her short story “The Murder of Jackie Gold (and How it Came to Be),” a story unfolding before your very eyes, about class, art, desire, disgust and–of course–murder. The blood runs even deeper as Hailey Robbins offers her own short horror story "Thud," about a woman restoring artifacts for a museum–with a gory twist I won’t dare to spoil.
Eryn Rhodes gives a different take on fright, in her declarative article “The Scariest Thing This Halloween Would Be a Second Term for Greg Abbott” which walks a fine line, being both a fierce defense of Texan politics as well as an assertive deconstruction of Abbott’s most destructive policies. Lastly, in the first installment of a new weekly column “The Quagmire of Legacy” Miriella Jiffar explores the way history haunts us here at UVA. In this column Miriella will give a deep dive into the recent development of historical tours on-grounds that give much-needed education surrounding the University’s history with slavery. In this first installment, we begin with explaining a brief history of student activism on grounds, and how it has led to this very moment. After all, the past never truly dies; there will always be remains of previous existence.
Thank you to Mary Esselman and Addie Gilligan for your hard work and dedication, and to Katie Jane Villanueva for your always beautiful artwork. I hope you enjoy this issue, and have a Happy Halloween!