Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Slushie and The Toy Store

When I visited the city as a little kid, we would go to a magical place called F.A.O. Schwartz. It was a multi-level toy store where instead of all the pretty things just sitting nicely on shelves, you were able to play with them. Walking around in a giant toy box, which is basically what the store was, made everyone smile and think of positive things. So when I walked into a bar in Savannah with beautiful swirling colors adorning entire wall, I felt like a kid back in the toy box.

"What's the blue one" I asked to the young guy standing behind the counter.
"Blue Lightning. It's blue curacao with vodka and moonshine."
I was caught up in the hypnotizing swirl of the alcoholic slushie machines in every color imaginable.
"What's the green one?"
"It's Sour Apple martini with moonshine."
"Well... which would you recommend?"
"You can get them both swirled together."
In a cup about the size of a kid's drink at any fast food place, I found solace from the horrible karaoke going on in the rest of the bar. This would be my first time hearing drunken people belt out Shania Twain, but not my last.

I had always had a connection to Savannah and wanted to visit it since I first read a book called Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The book painted the town as an other-worldly place filled with cobble stone streets, characters of all natures, and weeping willows. It was really those trees, those giants reaching up and covering the town in a bubble of moss that have stayed with me. I spent the earlier part of the day taking a ghost tour and getting to know the local history of the town. Now I was going to relax before heading back to my 'hotel'. My 'hotel' was just the nearest Walmart parking lot so I could sleep in my Prius for another night.

I was newly 21 on this trip and because I didn't drink until I was 20, I was still figuring out this whole alcohol thing. I had choices besides warm PBR and "jungle juice" made of whatever we could get our hands on. The whole reason for this trip was because I had lost my grandfather a month before. He raised me with my mother and will always be the model for what a perfect man should look like. Losing him was hard and as I said to my mother, "Escapism is more entertaining than therapy". So I ran away, or drove away, to see the places I always wanted to go because life was too short to wait for 'someday'. I pondered all this as the singing started giving me less of a headache and more of a desire to sing along.
Oh shit.
I was drunk.
I was drunk off one cup of moonshine slushie and alone in a town I had never been to. Oh yeah, and it was almost 1am. So with my last minutes of cell phone life I called my mom and bestie Angela to tell them my plan for the night because I couldn't drive.

"I'm going drunk ghost hunting by myself for awhile until I sober up. Love you!" BEEP BEEP BEEP as the phone died.

Armed with only my camera and stupidity, I made my way through the empty streets. The gas lights placed around town were separate enough so there were pockets of darkness underneath the willow adorned courtyards. The wooden benches I had passed hours before now seem to be waiting for someone, as if they were in an active state of being ready for something next. Like a sprinter waiting for the gun to go off, the benches were waiting for something to happen.

The cemetery was once a lot bigger. When the town started expanding, relatives would have to call up to have the town move the deceased to a new location or the town would just pave over the graves. Not everyone called. So as I made my way to the cemetery walls, because where else is the perfect place to go ghost hunting, I said a silent prayer for those who may be under my feet. There is a ghost said to be living in the cemetery called Rene. He was a large man who was said to have murdered animals while alive and the town rallied against the 'Demon' to purge him from their town. The children were said to taunt him when he was alive by calling out "Rene Rene come out and play." The guide I had for my ghost tour viewed the stories as the town's prejudice against a handicapped person who was misunderstood and feared for being different.

After many Halloweens of watching ghost shows on ABC Family, I knew if you took a photo with a flash spirit 'orbs' would show up. Walking along the stone wall whispering "Rene Rene come out and play" is not my smartest moment, I'll admit that. So I clicked my camera with the promise I'd only look at the photos later, when I got safely away from any possible ghosts.
I lied to myself.
I began to click and look, only not seeing just faint orbs in the background. There was almost a solid one to the left of the last photo I took. It was almost out of frame, so I sped up and shut up. But I didn't stop clicking my camera. 20 feet from the last photo I stopped to take another picture. The orb was still there but more in the picture. Nothing was on my camera lens, but I began to freak out.
Faster and faster I walked until I was almost at the end of the cemetery.
I took one last photo, hoping to ease my fears and it did.
In the photo, where the orb was, I could see.... a fingerprint.

It was my finger in the shots.

Laughing to myself, I made my way back to my car. It was almost 3am and there was nothing more appealing than the sleeping bag in the backseat of my car. When I looked at the photos the next day, after calling people to let them know I was not dead in a ditch somewhere, I laughed at myself for many reasons. I laughed because it was easier than crying. I had taken some orb photos, but I didn't get the afterlife communication I was looking for. I didn't want to believe that once a person dies, they are gone forever.

I believe people do leave a mark after they leave this world and sometimes they can communicate with us. My grandfather was a funny guy who loved to tell stories about his life. Every time I have a story, somewhere out there he's watching. He's laughing at me and pointing me out to the other angels like a proud parent. Just like all those years ago in the toy store, he's standing on the edge with a smile on his face. When the other parents would ask if I was with him, he would look at the person and say "Yes she is. She's a good kid like myself."

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