Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween Middletown Style

So I guess you could call this piece an editorial or a personal account. I don't really know which, or the purpose, but I grew up in Middletown and now in post-college years have found myself back here again. I suppose this town and experiences here have influenced my observations of the darker side of life, or should we say the lighter side of death? Today is Halloween, which has brought about a flood of memories for me.
I think it was when I was about 7 or 8 when, back in the mid 1990's, my dreams of what my adulthood would became a little more realistic and a lot less fantastical: I was not going to grow up magically be a movie star, turn blonde and be given a pink corvette by a boyfriend who looked like "Ken." I think this is when I became gravitated toward people who didn't travel with the pack, and who were a little out side of the norm, and thus the attraction I have always felt to the unique. At the time m y best friend and I started a "Mystery Club" because we were obsessed with the PBS show "Ghostwriter;" granted we were the only members.
I was never a brave kid. I spent days with my grandmother in the house my grandfather built. After someone broke into the home in the middle of the day when no one was home, that's probably when I became aware of malice. The idea that someone or something could be present when you were not expecting it, that invasions of my sense of safety were possible. What if the robbers weren't really gone but hiding in or watching the house? If unwanted persons could come into my bubble then why not other more scary things? I remember being too scared get up at night when I slept at Grandma's to go to the bathroom alone; she finally got a little upset and said, "Trust me there are no such thing as ghosts, If i died tomorrow and you stood on my grave and cried for me to get you a glass of water, you would die first waiting." This made me laugh and things were good for a while.
I went to Sunday school for a few years growing up, right on Main Street at First Baptist Church. Mostly because Mom thought I should be "well rounded", herself a Protestant, and because it was a great baby-sitter for a few hours. I mostly stopped going when we started going camping weekends, and when I realized other kids' parents usually went with them, not just dropped them off. Plus they stopped doing arts & crafts in the upper grades, bummer for me. The main issue was my parents unique conflict of beliefs, something which I now am proud of, and has made me be more open minded . It was the 1990's when the show "The X Files" began, which revitalized my Dad's interest in conspiracy theories. I suppose this too fueled my desire to be with the "out" crowd rather than the "in." He began taping documentaries on the JFK assassination, accounts of UFOs, and Nostrodamus. I think for the first time I saw my Dad read a book. I remember at night being upstairs and hearing the strange sounds from the TV show coming from the living room, and being scared. A teacher in 2nd or 3rd grade also watched the show and one science class discussed what our world would be like if there were other beings other than just us. This resulted in a week of me not sleeping, and a visit to school by my parents. I think to let the teacher know about how scared I had gotten and so Dad could meet another person who believed "the truth is out there." One night after not sleeping again and thinking I was hearing the hum of a spacecraft outside my window, I cornered my parents and demanded the truth: "Were there aliens? Would they take me?" Being an only child you are raised between being over protected and treated as a mini adult in a lot of ways. Mom said of course not. Dad said well yes, anything is possible, but if they took me they would bring me back. After more tears and waking them up, I think my parents got together and came up with the conclusion that if there were aliens, they only abducted people who wanted to go for a ride; and never took kids, and that it took a lot of gas to get to earth so they really didn't come too often.
Getting my license brought new freedom and places to explore. My '87 Delta Oldsmobile took to the roads around Maromas and Connecticut Valley Hospital many nights packed with friends ( car fit 7 can you believe it?) hoping we would see something. Well, we saw nothing. I got an slr camera and began taking pictures in black and white of the buildings hoping to capture an orb or a face in a window. Nothing. But I did get very artistic shots and started noticing the architecture and began falling in love with it, but just didn't know it yet. This strange magnetic attraction, and desire to feel a buildings essence pushed me towards my major in college, and the field I am in today.
I still drive around the CVH campus. I got plans of some of the torn down buildings from the state. One day home from break I drove through campus and saw that some of the buildings were being demolished.
I swear to this day I saw a building completely cut in half vertically, cross sectioned. From the car I thought i could see the exterior skin maybe 2 feet away from another interior concrete structure; each exterior window looked as if was false, with 2-3 small rooms behind it. I'd never seen a building from any of my field trips in college or text books that was being demolished quite this way; in pieces like a dissection. Was I seeing cells where the patients were held in secret areas behind a seemingly innocent fascade made to look like a brick Victorian? I planned that I would come back with a camera when it was brighter out. I went back the next day to take pictures and much to my dismay the building was leveled, a pile of rubble. I will never know if my childhood beliefs about the hospital on the hill had gotten the best of me, or I had seen something I was not supposed to. Either way I think I like not really knowing. During a lecture I recently attended I got the chance to ask Lorraine Warren, famed demonologist, about CVH, and she gave a clear answer of her never finding evidence of anything strange on the campus.
I waited 22 years to find MY answer to what happens to the human spirit when it passes over. I still don't know what the real explanation is, if I am crazy or somedays if I even believe my own memories of what I think I experienced. With time memories become ghosts themselves, traces of the true event. I watched my grandfather die of lung cancer over a 2 month period 3 years ago. He went to church every week. He never smoked. I watched a lively healthy person leave this world breath by breath day by day. I now know the body is only a shell of something else, what else I don't know. He waited to die a week so my younger cousins could visit from across country. He waited an half hour to die so that I was well on my way home from his home, and I wouldn't have to watch the final painful moments. His brain was consumed by cancer, doctors said he didn't know where he was anymore, he lost the ability to speak 3 weeks into the end, but his last words whispered to me the night he passed were "I'll see you tomorrow little one."
My grandfather had a passion for gardening. 2 weeks after his death I went outside to deadhead the roses in my parents yard. Again I have no idea why I felt compelled to do this at all. It was the summer. That day i saw more bumble bees than ever. Chipmunks. 4-5 squirrels. A robin, in August? Ok odd. But i didn't think anything of it until I was attacked, yeah attacked by a monarch butterfly. Usually butterflies tumble through the breezes just out of reach, but this one swarmed around my head, followed me through the yard, landed on my arm. I swatted and it kept at me like a wasp. I said "Ok! Ok I know you're here." The monarch flew off, gaining in height until it was out of site.
Happy Halloween.


Anonymous said...

Happy Halloween.

I was really touched by this piece...

Madam Nirvana (Molly Salafia) said...

Thank you very much! Happy Halloween to you too

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI: When I was taking pictures several years ago of the of the old abandoned buildings on CVH property I was stopped by a CVH security officer and told to stop because I could inadvertently photograph a patient walking CVH grounds and thereby violate their privacy. He told me I would need written permission from the Director of CVH to continue. The officer was nice enough about it and did not propose to confiscate my memory card.

Anonymous said...

This is really a great piece! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us! It allowed me to take a minute and reflect on what my life has been for 46 years. Something I am very proud of! As I have lost many loved ones, it reminded me of two very special moments I can recall after their passing. Each one put my mind and heart at ease that they were home with god. Very touching!

Anonymous said...

I don't care about the logistics of taking pictures several years ago at CVH- nice piece, don't let others discourage your writing!