Hallowe’en is just around the corner – we carved pumpkins this past Saturday, and I just pulled together my youngest son’s costume (Mario of Nintendo fame). While I love fall, I will admit that Hallowe’en is actually not my favourite holiday (and yes, I do consider it one). I gave up trick or treating at 11 or so, because I hated it. I’m not sure exactly why, though I have a theory, and it might have to do with the fact that I don’t thrill in being scared.
I have an active imagination, and need little encouragement to scare the crap out of myself. I hate being startled – my reaction is strong and tends towards violence (fight THEN flight) – and while I don’t mind a vampire movie with non-sparkly, kinda scary vampires, I am not a horror movie person. Zombies honestly and truly creep me out, and I do not enjoy being creeped out all that much. Haunted corn mazes hold absolutely no appeal for me.
That being said, I do have a curious, kind of love-hate relationship with ghosts. I grew up with ghost stories being told on both sides of my family, and I remember listening to them with a curious mix of thrill and trepidation. My favourite scary movie is TheChangling, with George C. Scott. Watch it and I guarantee you the sight of a rubber ball coming down stairs will never ever again seem innocent. Despite the fact that I'm convinced they are faked--like most of so-called "reality tv"--I can't watch those ghost hunter shows on TV without being creeped out. One of my favourite reads is a collection of ghost stories by famous Nova Scotiafolklorist Helen Creighton, titled Bluenose Ghosts.
Whether ghosts are real might be up for debate, but I fall into the camp of believers. It doesn't mean I think all ghosts are real, but that some have the possibility of being so. I also believe there could be a perfectly rational explanation for ghosts that involves string theory, space-time and other bits of physics we don’t fully understand yet. I grew up in a house with cold spots, miscellaneous noises and other oddities, and my mom, I firmly believe, carries the things around with her wherever she goes. New house, old house, it hardly seems to matter—they come in and set up shop.
I am not sure about the house I live in now – it’s older – 160 years or so. When we first went through it with the real estate agent, after I asked about foundations and wiring, I asked about ghosts and was told, to the best of the owner’s knowledge, there wasn’t any. I don’t think I could ever buy a house without asking about this. (Apparently the pizza shop two doors down from me used to be a saloon, and that, apparently does have ghostly visitors.) Every once in a while I smell cigarette smoke in a few places—mostly in one spot in the kitchen, by the back door and outside in the driveway—and no one has smoked in this house for a long time. It could be smell leeching out of old plaster walls—I’ve considered that. And frankly, I’m not sure what I think about it.
I’m not particularly religious and I don’t know what comes after death, if anything does beyond basic recycling. I’ve had an idea for a contemporary story that involves a ghost, so I suppose before I write it I should work that out. :)
In the meantime however, I think I might crack the cover of Bluenose Ghosts once again. I just won’t read it at night. ;)
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