Steve may have gotten me addicted to Art Bell — well, at least the Friday-night ghost-story fest. We fell asleep listening to it. Check this out — they told one that took place in the town where I worked, where I taught high school, where I went to high school! This is an international show, and here they were, talking about this (sort of) little town. Amazed me. I had heard a bit about some haunted places there. I used to assign outside reading to my students, but they were allowed to pick whatever it was as long as 1) their parents gave them permission to read it, 2) it was longer than 200 pages, and 3) it wasn’t a young adult book. Now, you might think most of them squeaked by on the minimum requirements, and there were those who did, but generally, they relished the freedom of the assignment so much that they would wind up choosing challenging material. One student read Gone With the Wind. Another read philosophy tomes. Lots of the girls picked Oprah books — which was fine by me. But I had this one special guy who picked really out there stuff to read. One of my favorite students. He read a book on astral projection and made this really cool board game based on the book. I had to let him and his peers play it during class once. Then he read some ghost-chasing book in the For Dummies series. Lots of people probably think I shouldn’t have let him read things like that, but hell, he met all my requirements, and he enjoyed the hell out of something he was reading. If you all only knew how rare that is — that an English teacher gets to enjoy teaching kids who like what they’re reading! Anyway, I think the story that the guy told on Art Bell was one of the things this student discussed in his ghost-chasing journal.
There were some damned spooky tales. I think the one that really scared the piss out of me was the one about the mirror. This woman had an antique mirror. She had it in her bedroom. Night falls, and I guess she can’t sleep. For some reason I didn’t quite catch, she was looking at the mirror. A pair of eyes — not her own -appeared in the glass. They scanned the room, then met her own eyes dead on. Then this mouth appears with this frightening smile, like it had her. She threw a lamp (I think) at the mirror and ran out of the room. Her family thought she was crazy. It chilled me to the bone.
I had something kind of scary (but not that scary) happen to me when I was about 13. I was thinking lots of scary thoughts, like stuff about Satan (I was obsessed with the idea that the devil was out to get me when I was a kid), stuff about the construction worker who had been killed while building a house across the street (we lived in a new neighborhood). Then BOOM! My music box starts playing of its own accord. I didn’t touch it; no one did. It just started playing. I flew — and I mean flew, because I don’t think my feet hit the ground — into my mother’s room and told her what happened. I had to sleep in there with her because I was too scared to go back into my room. I told Steve about it, and his theory is that it was a poltergeist, because 12-14ish girls tend to attract them — or something like that. I’m sure he’ll set that record straight in his diary.
I have been devouring Matt’s diary. He should join my Happily Married diaryring — he gushes about his husband almost as much as I do about mine. Plus we went to the same college and he lives close to me. I guess I can get by with revealing that much. Now if he just liked opera… His entries brought tears to my eyes. There were a couple of times there when he was describing things that are very familiar to me — like your family not being able to accept the person you love and the pain that causes. Reading about how his father acted when he came out, reading about his mom and sister at his wedding. Gosh. I called my mom to tell her Steve and I had gotten married. She went dumb, just like Matt’s mom did when he came out. She told me she thought I was making a mistake. It was hard to have to deal with anything that would mar that beautiful day.
We had decided to do it the night before. My divorce had been final for a while, but we were still waiting on his. Anyway, Steve says screw it, let’s just do it tomorrow. Tomorrow! We got online to find out what we would need. We had to drive out of state because our state requires a blood test, and we just didn’t have time. So we got up the next morning and drove about three hours. We married in the hallway of the city hall, right in front of the Christmas tree. A little man who just sat around all day performing weddings for people who got marriage licenses performed the ceremony and took our pictures (which didn’t turn out because he didn’t use the flash — devastated me). I wore the dressiest maternity dress I could find – a yellow one with pretty flowers on it. I was five months pregnant. We called Steve’s mom to tell her the news, and she was ecstatic. She doesn’t know it, but part of the reason she has my undying love is that she accepted me and put her love for her son and his happiness before some fundamentalist set of values. Guess which road my parents took? Call me Hester Prynne, y’all. One of the most disheartening things to learn is that your parents’ supposed “unconditional love” for you does indeed have conditions. So I, like Matt, was dying to move away, and now we have, albeit not as far away as he might be moving. I feel a certain amount of freedom in that. I like it here. I love my home. I can see myself living here for some time. Now, if I can just find a job…