(This post was originally posted on 10.31.09 on Love in the Time of Foreclosure at ChicagoNow)
We're in the checkout line at the hardware store buying a Swiffer with the help of Friday Harbor local and LITTOF reader, Joy. We had been looking at space heaters but balked at the $30 price tag. I am just looking for something to make the house warmer, cozier, homier.
Our friend Chris will be arriving soon in a Budget truck with our stuff from storage... all the way from L.A.
Yep, he's driving our stuff up for us. By himself. All the way... from L.A. And on the truck is our bed. Which means we could move into the house from the cabin. Which means we have to find a way to heat the place up a bit. Hence the desire for a space heater. But that will have to wait.
So we're paying for the Swiffer when we tell the woman at the checkout line that we have just moved here. We tell her that we're caretaking a house for two years and describe the house to her. She knows it. (It's a small island.) When I tell her that we're living in it, she stops, looks up and with wide eyes says, "You're living in it?!"
"Yes. Why?" I ask knowing the answer. I can feel it. The way she's looking at us.
"You know that house is haunted, right?" She says. Matter of fact.
Crap. Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap! There had been mention of a 'friendly' ghost in the upstairs room but I hadn't given much weight to that. Simply because I don't want to believe that there actually could be a ghost up there. It's an old house. Yes. I've lived in old houses before. There's always the possibility of paranormal activity (if you believe in that sort of thing) in an old house, but I choose not to think about that.
But this woman is serious. Adding to my already overactive imagination.
"Oh, it's haunted," she states.I laugh. Nervously. Is she messing with us? I mean I will believe anything anyone tells me. But she really does seem serious about this. She tells us that several prior owners had sold it because of strange noises.
Now this just seems ridiculous. The last two owners ran it as a B&B and the last owner didn't sell. It was foreclosed. (I know that's another piece of irony for another time.) When I mention that it was a B&B she says that the ghost was part of the charm.
More nervous laughter.
Okay, I'll admit it. I'm freaked. Trying to be cool, but totally freaked. I ask if she knows the backstory of the ghost and if there's anything we should do to appease it. Or if there's anything that might anger the ghost. If there's a ghost I do not want to anger it. Joy makes a joke about garlic. And the woman with the ghost story says, "It's not a vampire."
Silence. Then, I ask...
"Seriously, you're not joking? It's really haunted?"
"It's an old farmstead," she replies. As though to say, Of course it is. What do you expect?
What do I expect? I guess I expect to feel safe. To not live in a haunted house. Silly me. I look at the man waiting in line behind us who has just overheard our entire conversation. He's smiling and says,
"There's no such thing as ghosts."
We pay for the Swiffer, say goodbye and thank you to Joy and get in the car to head back to our possibly haunted house. Before we even leave the parking lot, I'm crying.
"I don't want to live in a haunted house!"
It's all at the surface now. My fears. My tears. My paranoia.
What the hell was I thinking?! I really thought I could do this? Live in the country on an island in an old farmhouse that is now apparently haunted?! What the heck is wrong with me?! Why on earth would I want to do this?! Yeah, let's move all the way to the edge of the world as far as seemingly possible from friends and family and into a haunted house on an island. That's a great idea! WHAT THE F---?!
Bob is being calm and completely patient with me. I'm trying my best to quiet my fears but at this moment I have no idea what to do. There's no doubt about it. I am completely and totally freaked out of my mind. I can't do this! I cannot do this, I cry.
Apparently Day 3 is my meltdown day, I tell Bob and we laugh. It was bound to happen. We both expected it. So here it is. Triggered by a ghost story.
When we get home I sit down and write an e-mail to four friends that will be visiting us in November. Here is an excerpt from that e-mail:
Bob believes in ghosts but says he doesn't sense a presence in the house. I don't know what I believe. I just know that I'm a freakin' scaredy cat.... and I'm creeped out at night. Bob said this is probably the safest place I've ever lived in my entire life. He's right, I'm sure. But it all feels strange.The responses I got made me feel so much better. Michael shared that he had lived with a ghost and it was fine once he acknowledged its presence. He also wrote this:
I do hope to get past this because right now I'm ready to bail. Again, scary movie plot.... all the previous potential caretakers bailed on the opportunity. The only ones that made it were the ones that had no other option. Us. And here we go.
Can we coexist with the ghosts? Are there any or just my wicked imagination? And what the heck has happened to my life? It's completely and entirely unrecognizable.
I miss you guys so much.
I miss L.A.
I miss our old life.
I miss the sun. Yes, it's cold. Bring warm clothes. Wool socks. Weather-proof jackets.
Meltdowns are good. They get rid of toxins. One of my favorite quotes is from Helen Keller, where she said "the only way out, is through". I've always thought of a meltdown as something I just have to go through in order to get out of whatever it is that has me stuck.Thank you, Michael. That made me feel so much better.
You're strong. Trust.
Chris arrives with the truck and a bottle of wine called The Ghost of 413 as a housewarming gift. It makes me laugh.
It's pouring with rain again and dark by now... so we decide to wait until morning to unload the truck. That means one more night in the cozy cabin. But first, dinner. We decide to eat in town because we hadn't prepared anything and I was not in the mood to be in the house.
It's great to have Chris here. He brought the metaphorical L.A. sunshine and a much needed friend "fix." Talking always helps. For me, for sure. So after calmly talking about the possibility of the house being haunted and sharing our own paranormal experiences, for some reason I felt more grounded and less jumpy. At least able to sleep. Comforted by the presence and support of a friend. And relaxed by the help of red wine.
Is the house haunted?
I don't know. For now, I choose not to think about it. I choose to just move "through."
Happy Halloween, everyone!
P.S. This post is entirely true. And just happens to coincidentally have occurred the week leading up to Halloween. Perhaps making me even more jumpy than I might normally be.
P.P.S. Please let us know in the comments if you have ever had any experience living with a ghost. Do you even believe in ghosts?