I've had a bit of a sixth sense since childhood – though it’s come and gone at different points. But I'm never quite as psychic as I would like to be. I would like, for example, to be psychic enough to know when I am going to meet my soul mate, or how to make a ton of money by playing the lotto, but I only get to know certain things. My friend's date is going to go well; this guy is different. Something is up with so-and-so; she has been lying to me for a long time. She has been lying about everything.

There was a time, soon after I got sober, that I felt like there were ghosts everywhere. I would sit down in my bedroom to meditate and instinctively feel that I had company. It was too late for the delirium tremens of alcohol withdrawal. In retrospect, it may have been my brain adjusting to the reality of life not on substances. But I had a pretty consistent and recurring feeling that something was after me, or something was with me, or that something was just... there.

(Photo via Tumblr)

One month, I had a dog-sitting gig for a gay couple in a quiet neighborhood near where I grew up. The house wigged me out -- there was astro-turf in the backyard, and spooky santeria artwork in the living room. The walls, as I recall, were neon yellow. But it was the upstairs corridor that really got to me -- the hallway into the bedroom, with a bunch of old pictures on the wall. The dog -- a skinny, skittish black lab mix -- would jump around and bark at random intervals. I shivered and huddled in bed, googling "dogs barking at ghosts" on my iPhone. Was the ghost going to kill me in my sleep? No, probably not. Still, I was petrified. Something was there. I had company, in the hallway.

One of the many nice things about getting sober is you meet a bunch of other people who also believe in things. When I announced to a dinner table full of recovering drunks that the home where I was dog-sitting appeared to be haunted, no one blinked an eye. "Smudge stick," someone told me (ever quick with suggestions, us drunks). "Get a bunch of sage and burn it."

After dinner I made one of my friends come over and check the house out with me. She assured me that there was just a bunch of "spooky energy," probably a product of the creepy artwork. A few years later -- we were spending New Year's Eve in the countryside -- she told me the truth. "That house was haunted as fuck!" She laughed. She hadn't wanted to tell me because the dog-sitting gig wasn't up for another few weeks and I was stuck there. She didn't want to scare me.

It's been a few years since this happened, and I'm no longer so skittish. Is there a ghost in my apartment? I don't know. If there is, she leaves me alone for the most part and clears out after I burn the Peruvian Sandalwood twigs I bought at Souk al Tayeb. But I still love hearing people's ghost stories -- or times they have encountered that "something." Something, anything. Whether true or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that we believe in them at our most vulnerable. They are the shape of what we think is out there.


Avatar 1
Post to facebook