This is the last bump in the road. Can't copy files over for some odd reason. It must be something I'm doing wrong but I tried scp so many different ways. I even specified port 22.
sudo scp ./curio.zip user@ipaddress:/var/www/ghost/content/themes
#=> scp: /var/www/ghost/content/themes/curio.zip: Permission denied
I never installed a firewall on this stack or messed with the servers default configuration files. So I'm unsure which side the permission denied is coming from.
I just tried creating a user group called ghost and added the ghost user to it and dhc-user to it as well. then I ran:
sudo chgrp -R ghost /var/www
I'm still getting the same error =\ maybe the problem is on my end?