If Ernie Could See Me Now

It’s been a couple of months as the Writer-in-Residence at the Hemingway Birthplace in Oak Park, Illinois outside Chicago. So far, no ghosts.

Sort of.

I love the space I have been fortunate to take on as mine for one year. Private. Quiet. I feel hermetically sealed in it. In a good way, that is. It’s a bubble and a comfortable one. So, if there are ghosts—namely Ernie himself—they’d have to break the seal and slip through the walls like real ghosts. Something ghosts are apparently good at, right?

But, even though I’d love to tell you there have been spirits in the old house, there have not been. It would make such a good story, wouldn’t it? Ernie showing up to say hello, maybe with a few writing tips, offer to take me deep sea fishing, or buy me a drink. But so far, Ernie hasn’t shown himself to me in any sensory way. And I can’t fake that. You see, I’m one of those creative nonfiction writers who tries really hard to tell truths, at least how I see it.


And here’s the explanation of the “sort of” I wrote in the second paragraph above.

I have this old typewriter I found in an antique shop many years ago. I snatched it up because it is, I believe, the same make of typewriter Hemingway used at his writing space in Key West. Now, I know he was known for writing standing up, and frequently, if not always, in longhand. But he did do some typing, mainly when drafting his stories. And in Key West, the word is he used a Corona portable.

Now, there is some debate here about the exact model and whether the typewriters in his museum-homes in Key West or Cuba are ACTUALLY HIS or just replicas or copies.

But that doesn’t matter.

Here’s what matters.

In my home on a small side table sits the portable Corona I found years ago. And the other night, I had a dream. Now, I have a lot of dreams and to be honest most are very odd. Remind me sometime to tell you about pigs dressed as Nazis, or the knife fight with a fish, or the ability to wave my hands and create magnificent gardens, like the ones in the psychedelic Beatles cartoons from the movie Yellow Submarine. The single dream I want to focus on, however, is this…

I heard that typewriter. Someone snapping at the keys. Tap, tick, whack. The writer was manic, attacking the keys. I could hear the keys and I thought, in the dream, they were coming from that typewriter. The Corona in my house. The dream was one of those mini ones, the fleeting kind you get in the misty space between REM sleep and awakening.


There was no other context to the dream. No narrative that made sense. Why would this dream be like any of the others I’ve ever had? Still, it was very real.

Ernie, is that you?

No ghosts yet at the Hemingway House, but maybe at mine.

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