Blink and You’ll Miss Them

There are ghosts in my house.

It’s not unheard of, I suppose. I live in a converted 100 year old building that used to be a dry goods warehouse. A lot of lives have passed through this place. If you believed in ghosts, it’s the sort of place you might expect to find them. And find them, I have. I’ve tried convincing myself otherwise, or rather, supplied logical reasons for illogical occurrences. But it’s about time I just accepted it. As easy as it is to explain everything, the logic is getting a bit more convoluted and a bit more implausible.

The ghost (for lack of an easier way to qualify the strange phenomenon) generally manifests as something triggering that leftover instinct we all have that lets us move out of the way when someone is walking near us. In a movement class I took in college (theatre major, remember?) we talked often about your “kinesphere” which is basically that area of personal space around your body that you have ownership and awareness of. If you’ve ever watched people adjust to a new person getting on an elevator, you’ve seen kinespheres at work. When someone gets to close, you inherently know it, and move to adjust. When strangers get too close, you don’t like it.

Someone or something keeps getting in my kinesphere.

For the first year or so, this only happened at night. The first time was in the wee hours of the morning while I was nursing. I was sitting on the couch, (in the dark, at night) minding my own business when someone came from behind me and walked across the room. I didn’t think anything of it until the moment was past and then something in my brain said, “Um, nobody just walked past you, you realize.”

It was creepy, but I was suffering from sleep exhaustion and more than a little asleep at the time, so I dismissed it easily as a bit of dream seeping into real life. No big deal since that actually happens fairly often to me (starting to dream before I really fall asleep, that is).

It happens every few months or so, and most of the encounters have been like that first one: late at night when I’m overly tired and so brief that it’s gone before I realize that it has happened. As easy as it is to dismiss this as sleep-deprivation, a believer could easily counter with the assertion that it’s only when my mind is that particular state that I can detect what’s going on all the time.

Recently, it has started coming out in the daytime, when I’m not so sleepy.

A few weeks ago, on a bright and sunny weekend day, I went into Charlotte’s room with her to change her diaper. Her room is basically a 10×6 “office” in our loft that’s been nicely converted into a nursery. It’s snug enough that if someone wants to get behind you when you’re at the changing table, you need to compensate. When Ryan walked in (like he often does), I stepped forward to make room for him. He barely squeezed by and I felt him brush my back. I asked him a casual question and he didn’t respond. When I turned around, of course, nothing was there. He’d been in the living room the whole time. I have no rationalization for this other than maybe a stray piece of paper rattled like a footstep and my brain filled in the rest. But that’s pretty weak, and doesn’t explain the brush against my back.

If that wasn’t enough to confirm my ghostly suspicions, the next encounter certainly was.

The floorplan of our building looks like a squared-off figure 8. The outside is lined with apartments, there are two giant atriums in the “holes” of the 8, and the path that cuts between them has the elevators, a stairwell, the trashroom, etc. We live just off the center of the 8. Last week I got off the smaller of our two elevators and discovered that someone had left a giant pile of cardboard boxes around the larger “freight” elevator. It looked like someone had bought a bunch of “needs assembly” furniture from a single store. I wondered if they were putting in a new model or something. As I crossed the bar of the 8 into the long hallway, I heard a commotion behind me. Quickly swinging my head, I saw about 4 or 5 people at the far end of the hallway entering an apartment. Obviously the boxes belonged to them. Mystery solved. While I had my head turned, I got the very distinct impression that someone was barreling down the hallway and headed straight for me and since I wasn’t looking where I was going, I was about to slam right into them. It was clear they were going so fast they weren’t going to be able to stop and I had stepped directly into their path. I braced myself for impact and nothing happened.

Because nobody was there.

No sound. No Noise. Nothing.

I’m pretty sure I stomped my foot and said “Dammit!” This was the first time something had happened outside our unit, but I was standing close by, and if there is a ghost and it has a “territory”, I doubt it would be sticking to the current floor plan.

This one I have a hard time explaining away. The best I’ve come up with is that I have crappy peripheral vision and the lighting (a combo of natural and un-) reflecting off the doors along the hallway but not the walls while I was quickly turning my head had tricked my brain into thinking that something was rushing towards me. I did have quite a bit of stuff filling up my brain (in addition to the pile of boxes) and that sort of daydreaming is kind of like being half awake, I suppose.

There have been a few other suspicious things (noises, moved items, etc), but I’m not sure I would have considered any of it suspicious without the personal-space intrusions. At some point in all of this, you have to apply Occam’s Razor to the phenomenon and it’s starting to feel like “there’s a ghost” is way less complicated than anything else I can come up with.