It's been about three decades that I realized I "do that."
I was attending grammar school in Freehold at the time, and my parents had both volunteered to work the Bingo game at the church hall that night. One of the perks of them going to work at the Bingo game was I got to stay with my grandma at her home on Marcy Street in downtown Freehold.
I loved staying at my grandmom's house. Not only did she make me cinnamon rolls every single time I stayed there, she would also share tales about how she used to keep an eye on "Bruce" as he'd play in her neighborhood (she was talking about Bruce Springsteen – who played in her neighborhood back in the day).
When I would stay over, I had a daybed that I slept on in the back of the house. I remember she always tucked me in with a hug and a kiss on my head, and on this particular night, I drifted off to sleep pretty quickly. I hadn't slept for long when I awoke with a start. I felt a thing. A BIG thing … sitting on the daybed next to me. There was a depression on the daybed, and it felt…human. Yet, no one was there.
So I know what you're thinking. A child fantasy. A sleep-induced boogie man. It could've been, sure. Only here I am, sitting here as an adult - 30 years later - still feeling that it wasn't.
It startled me enough that I stayed awake the whole night. I was terrified, and I remember hearing my grandmom wake up to use the bathroom about 4 a.m. the next morning. I jumped out of the daybed and ran to her. "Grandmom! I felt something sitting next to me in the bed."
I remember the look on her face. It didn't look like panic. I wanted her to be panicking, along with me. There was a THING sitting next to me in my BED for Christmas sake! (The LEAST she could have done was feign terror!) But no. The look I got from her could best be described as, recognition … maybe even, dare I say, pride?
"Yes, Baby. We do that," was all she replied. I remember it like she said it yesterday. I was 8 or 9 years old, and I remember thinking "really, this is the best she's got for me??!" Then she walked me back to the daybed - the one that I was terrified to sleep in- and she said: "If it comes back, or if you feel ANYTHING like that again, and you're scared, just tell them to 'please go away.' And if you want to talk to them, just say 'I'm ready.'"
Fast forward 30 years, and MANY nights of 'please go away' later. I'm pushing 40, and life is pretty good. I'm a skeptic. I don't believe in monsters under the bed, and I'm only meh on the whole afterlife thing. But damned if I still don't do THAT, occasionally.
A few weeks ago, my good friend and coworker Justin Louis said he was going to go on a paranormal investigation with the Ocean County Paranormal Society at the Paramount in Asbury Park, in preparation for our company's first-ever Haunted Hall event at Convention Center. As the digital managing editor for Townsquare Media, he wanted me to come along and shoot some video and photos of the night, along with a few other folks from our team.
There I found myself, on a recent cool September evening, standing in a pitch-black room on the second floor of the Paramount.
I had never been on a paranormal investigation, and didn't have the slightest idea what to expect, but, man, that THING came back to haunt me (pardon the pun).
As I'm standing in one of the rooms in the Paramount – I learned later that that particular room had been part of a large fire at the Paramount where some performers from the Paramount may have perished – I asked my colleagues, Justin and Toniann Antonelli, to indulge me for a minute while I recounted the story about my grandmom.
Only this time, instead of saying, "please leave," I said "I'm ready. Aaaand, that's when things got real.
I felt chills, EVERYWHERE. There was a distinctive sensation on the back of my legs. And then I started to cry. A lot. In front of my coworkers. And I had - have - NO idea why. For those of you who don't know me, let me educate you. I'd rather shove a fork into my own eye than have anyone see me cry, especially a coworker. Yet, there I was, sobbing in front of not one – but two – professional colleagues.
Toniann and I started to talk…we felt SOMETHING. Something was there. Icy cold. Very hot. Chills. Hairs on the back of the neck standing up. And then it got really weird. Justin went to get another investigator because Toniann and I were very connected to SOMETHING, and he wanted another opinion. The minute he left, things got very real.
For reasons that I'm still not quite clear on, there were very old stuffed animals in the room that we were in. Toniann asked WHATEVER it was, "is this your toy?" And then in an act of UNBELIEVABLE bravery - she MOVED the toy. It was at that point that the K-II Meter, which is used to measure electromagnetic fields - started moving. It went from a solid green to red the minute she touched that toy. My heart skipped a beat. When I walked into the room, and Justin put that thing in the middle of the room, I thought 'yeah right, that thing isn't going to do anything.' And yet, there it was…moving. COMMUNICATING.
We asked a few more questions and had a few more responses. Then it was gone. I didn't feel the cold anymore. No more heat. I didn't have the cries anymore. Just gone. A return to normalcy.
I can't tell you what it was. And yeah, I know there's going to be a bunch of you out there that will read this and say: "B.S." That's ok. I'm questioning myself days later. Yet, I keep hearing my grandmother's voice: "Yes, baby. We do that." Then there was the audio we took while we were on the investigation, which also freaked me out a little.
About an hour later, I was still feeling unsettled. I was still on the investigation but not much was happening where I was. So I asked Boni – who heads the Ocean County Paranormal organization – what the heck just happened to me. I was confused.
"It's possible you're an empath," she said. "You should try and develop your abilities."
An empath, I thought. An adjective – 20 years later – for the THAT, that "we do." It was comforting and yet unsettling, all at the same time. I don't know why I cried, or what it was that made that green light move. I'm not sure I want to. But having a name for the "that" that me and my grandmom do, is a start. And I really hope I get the chance, in the future, to learn more about THAT.
Have you ever had a similar experience? Tell us about it in the comments!!