The house in Germany: although we’ve packed up and left it, it hasn’t left us.
Images of autumn and Halloween are starting to flood the internet, and I’m sitting here in Florida thinking that it’s still too hot to plant pansies, wear a sweater, or start the full-on (and often pumpkin inspired) baking frenzy that I feel compelled to throw myself into this time of year. (I bake in the autumn the way birds migrate: I can’t help myself, it seems to be woven into the fabric of my being.)
I love my new environs in Florida, for all of the reasons this place inspires love: the dolphins I’ve watched in the past week; the great horned owl who graces our backyard; the glistening bay, beach, and boat docks that I walk to with my dog every evening.
But the interminable summer is a little frustrating for a girl who loves four seasons. So today, I give you this wistful image– the old house in Germany in a tinted Halloween mashup. Old, creaky, spooky, beautiful . . . and autumnal.
Well, my traveling friends, it’s true: there is a small medium at large. You know how, when you travel, you are met with new and unexpected experiences? That’s the draw of it, right? This is also true when you move to a new region–there are sure to be interesting developments, to be moments of “Oh, wow, that’s never happened to me before.”
Any number of moments, really. But here is one for your consideration.
As you know, we’ve just moved back to the States from Germany. And if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I was sorely disappointed that the very old stone house we lived in there wasn’t haunted, even though we had enough ghost stories under our belts already. Anyhoo, as we packed up to bid Germany goodbye and we planned our new life in Florida, we gave up any hope of supernatural tales. In fact, in our last weeks, we were told that the old German house used to be called Villa Sunshine by the locals. Not much spooky there.
So off to sunny Florida, where sangria and surf are the norm and atmospheric tales stay at bay.
Then again . . . we hadn’t even gotten to Florida before a Floridian friend was in contact and, on hearing where we would be renting our house, said “Hey, that’s the neighborhood with the psychic, isn’t it?”
Was it? We didn’t know. Honestly, we didn’t care. But weeks later, as we moved into the new digs, we found ourselves on the lookout. Any odd-birds in the neighborhood? Anyone walking around in a turban, looking like Zoltar the fortune teller?
Our curiosity was peaked, but we had no idea what we might be looking for. There were no “Sister Rosa, Palm Reader” signs in front yards–the Home Owner’s Association would have frowned on that. There were no Gypsy caravans parked in driveways. So we were on the lookout for any eccentrics that we might pin the role on, but we were coming up with nothing. Which just made us more curious.
I don’t have any experience with psychic mediums. My only reference points are examples like the Zoltar fortune teller machine and Whoopi Goldberg’s character in the movie Ghost. (A character whose narrative arc is pretty interesting: she starts out as a charlatan and ends up being more sage than she ever knew she could be.) If you don’t remember her, here’s a small clip for you:
Yeah, generally speaking, I guess the idea of a psychic makes me giggle. At worst, this person would be a con man– ready to prey on folks who are looking for reassurance or struggling through grief. But then again, there are some people who are intuitive, you know? And so many of us have stories that defy logical explanations, so maybe . . . just maybe. . .
Bottom line: I’m a skeptic, but not foolish enough to say it isn’t possible.
So my husband and I continued our neighborhood watch– it was our project to figure out where this eccentric might live. We embraced the challenge a little too happily: we watched the neighborhood and the neighbors, we commented on odd decor and strange choices of head-gear, we sat in judgment of peculiarities or individual flights of fancy.
Little did we know. . .
Honestly, here’s exactly where I should have seen the plot twist coming– I’m an English and Religious Studies major, after all, and this is the age old tale. When you’re looking for the trouble out there–the fault in your neighbor– well, you’re looking in the wrong place. More often than not, the fault is your own.
So guess where this psychic lived? Yep. Oh, yep.
Turns out, we’d moved into the house.
* * *
I’ll give up no information on this person– who by all accounts from neighbors, and our own dealings, is fantastic. In fact, this makes me want to be more open to the idea of a . . . psychic? I don’t even really know what that is. I have this hodgepodge of terms in my head– psychic, clairvoyant, medium, spiritualist, etc.– and I don’t really know what they mean, or how they’d be distinguished one from the other. Really, all this situation has taught me is that I know nothing and should probably keep my mouth shut. We’ll see how well that lesson takes . . .
But in the meantime, I’m left with this: as much as I’m a skeptic in my head, my heart seems to be a total buy in– and it’s causing me some real trouble.
A couple of weeks ago, our landlord dropped by the house with an extra set of keys that we needed. I answered the door, was welcoming and polite, as usual, and then suddenly froze as I was shaking this person’s hand. I had the thought, “What if _____ can sense my thoughts? What if they know I know? That I think being a psychic is strange?” Of course, these thoughts were followed by a barrage of “Stop thinking. Seriously. Right now–stop. Oh, I can’t control my thoughts!!!” And, intuitive or not, anyone would have gotten some strange vibes from me then. I’m pretty sure my entire facial expression went to the deer caught in the headlights pose for a minute or more, and I was pretty much a jabbering idiot. So again, lesson to the arrogant: judge not lest ye be judged. Which is not fun.
And this week the same problem arose. This time, our air conditioning started limping (freon leak), and we had to call the landlord. My husband tried to hand me the phone to make the call– I’d noticed the problem and would generally have made the call myself. But I was not feeling it. It had been a stressful day –unpacking boxes, sifting through breakage, and muttering obscenities all day– and I just wasn’t ready to call up a mind reading spiritualist. I had to, shame-faced, take my husband out of earshot of the kids and say, “You really have to make this call, because I think that maybe I DO believe in psychics, and I think that a psychic would pick up on a whole lot of bad juju and general craziness in me right now, and I’m not feeling like being evicted from my house today just because I happen to suffer from this-is-what-it’s-like-inside-my-wierd-head-syndrome.”
God bless my husband. He asked no further questions and just made the phone call.
I did, however, have to speak to our small medium at large a couple of days later to confirm that the air conditioning repair man had been by. I think that conversation went well. Granted, I was manically chipper sounding. Possibly one toe over the crazy-line of chipper. (I had to talk fast before the “can’t- control- my- thoughts–you’re a pyschic!” stuff crept in.) But it is what it is.
Any psychic worth their salt would understand the issue and forgive me.
I think it could be a real burden being a psychic and dealing with all us crazy humans. Hopefully the voices from the other side are much more sensible.
I woke up this morning in my new house. I’ve been here about two weeks and been living out of a suitcase for over a month now. Often as not, I’ve been sleeping on a blow up bed on the floor.
This is part of the move madness that holds you in its grip when you stage a move from overseas—it’s a protracted madness, because when you move an entire household of furniture over the ocean, you move it on a slow boat.
So I woke up for the umpteenth day on the floor, and I had to use considerable effort to haul myself upright. I’ve developed a wicked catch in my side that Advil only dulls. I didn’t have that problem two weeks ago, so I think there is some cumulative wear and tear that this sort of living takes on you.
Then again, I wasn’t 50 a few weeks ago.
Over the hill jokes aside, I’m holding my own pretty well. My knees and ankles do click, and reading glasses, which are the bane of my existence, are paradoxically also my most valued possession at present.
Still, I have no real complaints. All in all, I’m feeling pretty youthful. . . and just a tad immature.
However, there has been another disturbing development. That new house I’m waking up in? It’s in a retirement community. (!!??!!) Believe me, I didn’t know this when we signed the contract. Had no idea. It’s just a slightly cruel twist of fate.
There are other families in this neighborhood, and some of them young, but the majority of my neighbors are retired. (Well, this is Florida.)
Before we signed a contract on this house, I Googled the general area. All the intel came back positive. After we signed the contract, I had more time to do the peripheral research– figure out exactly what our corner of the neighborhood was all about. I started by looking deeper into the neighborhood clubhouse and the many photos of it posted online–just hoping to get a better idea of any activities that might be going on, or a general vibe to the community. That’s when I began to have a creeping suspicion.
There was a New Year’s Eve party at the clubhouse last year. Photos were posted. I thought to myself, this is sure to reveal some neighborhood secrets! And, for sure, it was revelatory. By the looks of it, the party was attended by only the over 70 crowd. Still, this wasn’t shocking, because most people have other places to go on New Years. (This is what I told myself.)
Then I looked at the photos from Mardi Gras. The same senior (but somewhat randy) crowd, all wearing purple and gold. It seemed a little suspect. I Googled the demographics, and suspicions were confirmed: the average age here is over 66. I wrung my hands and reminded myself, “This is Florida—demographics will be skewed.”
Then we rolled into town last week and were happy to find that there are a few other families around. Haven’t seen a lot of other teens yet, but hopefully they are here. The good news about living in an older community is that the community pool isn’t over-run (I think that’s good; not sure my kids agree), and the homeowner’s association cuts your grass for you (that is worth the clicking knees any day!). But, I confirmed with a friend in town, this area is considered a retiree community on our side of town. *Sigh*
I won’t lie to you—there is a little sting to turning 50 and immediately moving into a retiree-rich community. There is a wicked, biting humor to it.
But I do love my neighbors– they are all friendly and eager to greet you with a bottle of wine and a smile. Also, I have a small beach and quiet pool down the block, and a grounds crew who cut the grass, so I think I can live with it. I’m just praying that my children don’t draw too many scolding looks for the tremendous noise they sometimes create . . . and that I never have to fend off a pass from the 85 year old crowd. There are not enough Geritol vitamins in the world to make that okay.
You know, I think I’ll avoid the Mardi Gras party at the clubhouse next year.