Saturday, August 11, 2012

I Ain't Afraid Of No Ghosts

Just in time for my usual late-summer/early-autumn foray in to my self-indulgent ghost post, along with sparing me the effort of working too hard here so I can get a whole lot of far more difficult writing done elsewhere, I want to relate an incident that occurred at casa Kruse-Safford last Wednesday night.

It was about ten p.m., and I had gone to the garage to make sure all the animals were inside for the evening.  I noticed the driver-side rear door of my car was open.  My first reaction was frustration with our younger daughter for not closing it.  Then, I realized that when she'd exited the car earlier that day, she had gone out the passenger side, because it's closer to the door from the garage to the house.  I then wondered why it was hanging open - not far, mind you, but clearly open, with the dome light shining bright - and figured my wife was perhaps rooting around in the back seat for something.  What, I couldn't possibly imagine.  Furthermore,  it was light enough and clear enough that if anyone was over there, I would have seen them.  There was no one there.

Still, I figured someone had to be over there, so I took a couple steps toward my car and called out my wife's name.

That's when the car door closed.  On its own.

Like most garages, ours is an acoustic nightmare.  The smallest sound becomes amplified by repeated echoing off the wood walls and concrete floor.  Not just the sight of the door closing but the audible "fwump" as it did so, with the automatic door locks engaging and the tail lights flickering to signal the car was now locked - all of that was both clearly visible and audible.  I stood still for a moment, and I won't deny a certain ill sensation in my gut.  Not so much frightened, I will admit to being more than a little unnerved by the experience.

Which didn't stop me from walking over and seeing who might have closed my door.  As I wrote above, the garage was lit well enough that another human being would have been clearly visible.  I saw no one.  All the same, there has been a rash of break-ins in our general area in recent weeks, so it was at least possible someone was checking out my dented, six-year-old Kia for any goodies it might contain (all the while ignoring the tens of thousands of dollars of DJ equipment stored out there, my wife's car, the other contents of the garage like lawn and garden tools) and I walked the five or so steps from where I had stood just behind my wife's car behind my own and looked down the driver side toward the front of my car and the rear wall of the garage.

No one.  No sound of someone trying to scuffle away.  No shadow of someone crouching behind the front end of my car.  I looked left and right, and I saw nothing.  There was no one in the garage except me.  I tried the handle of my car and, just as the lights indicated, it was locked (a safety feature on the Kia I happen to like; I don't have to engage the remote locks if the rear doors close after the front doors because they do so automatically).  Except, I hadn't locked my car when I got out of it that afternoon, and I had seen the rear door close and the lights flash indicating that the door locks had engaged.

I stood for another moment, looked around the garage again, then went in the house.  I locked the door behind me - again, something I do every night; we live in the middle of nowhere but safety first and all that - and, seeing Lisa at the kitchen sink doing some late-night dishes, said, "That was the freakiest thing I've ever seen," and proceeded to tell her what had just happened.

Lisa was more put out by the events I related than I was, to be honest.  Getting over the initial surprise of seeing something happen that shouldn't happen, I became, in a day or two, more intrigued by it than anything.  While I haven't started setting up cameras in the garage or returning each night at the same time, I would enjoy seeing it, or something similar, happen again.  Singular events such as this, while interesting, mean little. As I told my youngest sister on the phone, it's just a car door closing.  I do not for one moment believe our house haunted (although, if it were, that would be awesome; more on that in a moment).

I have come to the conclusion that, whatever the phenomena we label "hauntings" might be, there is little of which to be scared.  If, indeed, they are the physical manifestations of some non-physical remnant of human beings, then at worst they are little more than attention-getting devices.  Were our house haunted, it wouldn't be something about which to tremble.  On the contrary, it would demonstrate that someone loved this place enough to hang out after they were "gone" (whatever that might mean), indicating an emotional attachment linked to fond memories and pleasant experiences.  Far from finding such a thing frightening, I find solace in the fact that others who once lived in the space my family now occupies had such an attachment.  It bodes well for my family's sojourn here.

For what it's worth, that's what happened and how I feel about what happened.  It isn't something about which I worry or brood.  It isn't something that scares me, prevents me from going to the garage, makes me jump at each little bump and knock our very noisy house makes.  Should such an event or a similar such occur, it would mean for me that something might just want to let someone know it's still out and about, which I might well acknowledge with joy.

Last night, Lisa and I were waiting for Moriah to get home from a party.  We were sitting and watching Season 8 of NCIS on DVD.  The episode in which recurring character Mike Franks is murdered was on.  In a flashback, Franks and Gibbs are talking about the possibility that we see ghosts.  In a piece of writing that I find really beautiful, Franks says, "We see them.  Our lives are filled with them, not just the ones we kill, but the ones we remember.  That's why, wherever I go, I make sure the space is filled with lots of naked women."  The last part is a good line, but I like so much the idea that our lives are, indeed, filled with the spirits of those who have shared our lives at one time or another; the ghosts of our lives aren't just those who have died, but who have passed from our lives to whatever came next for them.  Lingering in our hearts and minds, we keep them close as we knew them in order to keep that part of our lives real.  It also serves to keep them alive as well, even if an arrested, attenuated life.

To live surrounded by such would not be a burden.  It wouldn't be frightening.  I wouldn't consider it a threat to my family.  I would welcome such experiences as part of the wonder and mystery that is our world, a celebration of life-in-death that, after all, resonates with my own Christian faith quite well.  Still, what happened isn't anything at all like that.  It was a car door closing.  Intriguing, to be sure, yet hardly anything to cast me running and screaming like a little girl from my own garage.

Virtual Tin Cup

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