Compared to Europe’s expansive historical timeline, the United States is a fairly young country by…oh I don’t know…a few thousand years! But California is rich with migration history and the strength and struggles of immigration. Our buildings and homes may not possess the spirits of monarchs and royalty, but our adobe-constructed haciendas are just as haunted by powerful spirits, as the ones in Europe’s most magnificent castles.
I was blessed to have had the opportunity to investigate one of California’s oldest historical landmarks. The home now stands as a beautiful museum, depicting how life existed almost two centuries ago, and still holds many of the furnishings once used by the original inhabitants. When I arrived that fateful night, I was asked to meet the other investigators inside and when I neared the center of the home, (this location had a very simple floor plan; one long straight hallway with offset rooms.) I was told that the others were headed in my direction.
So I stopped, waited and watched figures slowly come into view. I listened to the chatter of excited investigators growing louder, as they slowly sauntered down the large semi-dark hallway towards me. I didn’t know the folks joining me that night, so I didn’t recognize them, however I did notice that they were all being led by a smiling and seemingly jovial, short, stout, graying older gentleman. I found his clothes sort of eccentric, odd brown pants and a heavy striped sweater with suspenders. I thought it especially strange that he was dressed so warmly since it was the middle of summer, (my trusty Mel Meter was telling me it was 81 degrees inside.) This man seemed very proud to be leading the group, and when he was about 10 feet in front of me, our eyes met and he smiled at me and I smiled back. We connected. I remember he had a warm friendly glow about him and a twinkle in his eyes. He was grandfatherly and I was thinking, who is this character?
I quickly turned around and started walking, to stay ahead of the group. I led them down the hall to a large kitchen, where there was more room to set up our base camp and for a quick meet and greet. But when I looked for him, the charming man was nowhere to be found. It became very clear that he was not part of the group. As it turned out, he was my first full-bodied apparition.
I was stunned. How did I not know I was face to face with someone who was dearly departed? We locked eyes after all, how did I not make that connection? For some reason, my brain saw this man and decided, all on its own, he was real. I find this a bit bothersome. I do not like the idea that my brain would allow something so important to go unnoticed. It is every ghost hunter’s dream to witness and interact (as I truly did) with a fully developed sprit. It’s the Holy Grail in the paranormal field. This upsets me so much that even to this day, I could almost have a complete fit when I think back on it. (I would do it right now, if I weren’t afraid of startling my neighbors.)
I wonder how many other times has this happened to me? How often have I casually walked right past a ghost? It’s almost rude. I feel as if I need to apologize to the spirit world, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to ignore you, I didn’t know you weren’t…alive”! Have I seen them at the grocery store or the mall? Are they in everyday places where there are multitudes of people? Can my brain not distinguish the living from the dead or does it even try? Of course you don’t expect to run into a ghost at the gym or Pizza Hut (and yes in my life, those two locations go hand-in-hand). Are they at Disneyland walking freely during the day, do they visit the Haunted Mansion? Or are they walking along the busiest sidewalks in Manhattan, where people on autopilot, swerve to avoid a collision with them on their way to work?
So how do I re-train my brain to evaluate people that I meet in a different way? Are there signs that someone is a ghost that I can use as a trigger and tell my brain “hey there, pay attention, this might be one”? I don’t think there is. I don’t think we have that much control (I don’t know about you but there is a lot of junk rattling around in my head all day). I remember hearing of stories like “the man was just sitting at the table but the restaurant was closed and when I asked him to leave he just vanished, right in front of me”. I will admit, I was skeptical every time I heard that type of tale. I couldn’t understand how those people thought they were looking at the living and not a ghost. Until my encounter, I have only seen shadows and translucent figures, so I never thought it was possible. Well…it is!
So now what? What is the next step? I refuse to let something like this happen to me again. This little man wanted to connect with me and I blew it!!!! It’s a dream to have that opportunity again. And I will admit I am slightly more irrational when I look at people and feel that they might be a bit out of place. I have followed a few unsuspecting folks only to discover they don’t, as a spirit would, glide through the men’s bathroom door, but actually open it and step inside.
It is encouraging to know that the possibilities are out there. I am one of the lucky few and have witnessed something all of us in the paranormal world hope for. And my eager curiosity will continue this hunt for as long as I live. My dear ghostly friend that I met that warm summer night, in one of California’s greatest treasures, has given me a night I will never forget and a gift I will cherish forever.
Please feel free to share your ghostly encounters. Have you ever thought you were seeing the living but weren’t? Please share!