Title: Abandoned Asylums - What Has Become
Artist: Gary Heller
I have always believed in supernatural things. Ghost stories fascinate me; Grimm’s Fairy Tales held my attention from a very early age (and not the sanitized ones, but the originals – the ones where the little kids stealing pieces of an old woman’s house actually get eaten – those are creepy); and my favorite poem was one passed down from my grandma to my mom, Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley. Imagine a small cabin in New Hampshire, with a fire in the hearth, sitting in the middle of a dark woods, and mom whispering “An’ the Gobble-uns’ll git you ef you don’t watch out!” Oooo! I had a great childhood! 🙂
But all this isn’t just a fascination or a flight of fancy – I really do believe in things we can’t see. And why not? What is there to lose by accepting that things really can go bump in the night?
I think just about everyone has come across something that can’t be rationalized away, the cold spot on the stairs that the dog won’t cross, the can goods that are suddenly alphabetized in the cupboard, the sheet floating in mid-air in the room next to me. Okay – maybe I’m taking a little bit of literary license, but you have to admit, everyone has heard, experienced, seen, or just kinda noticed something that defies a rational explanation.
Our first townhouse in Greeley, Colorado had a ghost cat. Really! You would just catch a glimpse of it as it ran by. At the time, we only had 3 cats (as opposed to the 6 we have now), but we knew it wasn’t one of ours. One time we were standing at the door with a couple of friends and all 4 of us stepped aside to let a cat run by – except there wasn’t one – and our 3 were sleeping on the couch. Group hallucination? I think not! Ghost cat – yes indeed.
This discussion could easily lend itself to a religious or scientific debate, but I don’t want to go there. I’m not talking about whether there is a heaven or after life, or of residual energies or echoes of wavelengths traveling through an alternate universe… you can see I have given this a lot of thought. I don’t pretend to know what a ghost is – I simply think we should accept the fact that there are some things we just can’t explain – things that should be believed because they are uniquely weird and wonderful and add a little bit of color to our lives. Kinda a theme I live by.
Here’s another example: I was once in a house with a couple other girls. No one else was home. (No – really we were the only ones there – I promise.) We had left a bunch of books open on the table in the dining room and had gone upstairs. We heard a thump (or perhaps a whump) and ran down to find all the books closed and stacked neatly. (The accompanying sound track here is basically just screaming – you know that little-girl-shattering-glass-high-pitched-please-stop-before-my-ears-bleed scream.) After the screaming stopped and the shattered glass swept up, we decided to try an experiment – a very scientific experiment. We unstacked the books, opened them up, and went back upstairs. A few minutes later a thump and a whump and immediately there was more little-girl-shattering-glass-high-pitched-please-stop-before-my-ears-bleed screaming. The books were closed and stacked again and we did the most logical thing we could think of – we left the house through any exit we could find.
Since then, I have grown into an adult – proven by the fact that I scream at a lower pitch and I am less likely to leave the building because it gives me the creepy crawlies. Oh no, now I run full bore for the cold spot. I stop at all the old grave yards I can and explore the grounds. I peek in broken windows of buildings long vacant. I download images of abandoned theme parks, insane asylums, and empty hotels. I wonder who walked there and do they still – what were their lives like? How did they live and how did they die? I like the creepy crawlies – I love it when the hair stands up on the back of my neck or when the goose bumps rise on my arms. Why? Because for all the human need to take things apart and understand how they work, or to know the “why” behind a request, I believe we also need some of the you-can-never-explain-it, what-the-hell-just-happened, did-you-see-that, and I-swear-something-just-touched-me-on-the-hand experiences. These are the things that remind us that for all our pompous blustering, our belief that we live at the top of the food chain, the “I’m going to rule the world so get out of my way!” mentality – we are surrounded by things we can never explain.
And I for one, don’t want an answer. You are welcome to join me in my creepy crawly experiences. Feel free to share my cold spot. Climb through the broken window with me. You are not welcome to try to tell me that ghosts aren’t real – that they “may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato.”  I believe, therefore they are real. After all, isn’t that what makes us unique – our ability to revel in the weirdness of life?
Next time we will talk about aliens – I’ve got a whole other theory on that.
 Dickens, Charles (1843) A Christmas Carol