Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Things That go Bump In the Night!

I admit to having a vivid imagination. It certainly helps as a writer. I also have a healthy respect and belief in the supernatural and agree that there are some things better left alone.

But what would a celebration about Samhain be without an unexplained experience or two?

However, I also love history and when I got the opportunity to attend Heather Grahams Writers Workshop last year in New Orleans, I didn't think twice. It was an amazing place steeped in history, abundant in diverse cultures and utterly fascinating (to me anyway!) There are so many more places there that I'd like to visit, but I want to focus on an experience I had last year while staying at the Monteleone that has changed forever my perspective on the subject of the historical haunted places.

I've been to many historical sites, granted. Most have heard of those places where the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end or when a chill sneaks up your spine for no reason.

Never had I truly experienced it for myself.

There were three separate incidents. But I'm going to highlight those that happened to me directly.

The first was when my roommates and I were in our room one evening and I noticed a voice mail on my phone. With all the talking in our room, I decided to step into the hall where it was quiet. A few feet from our door just past where the hall cuts left to the elevators, there was a small set of steps leading up to another level--presumably a suite. There was no one in the hall, so I sat down on the step and began to go through the process of retrieving my voice mail. I had a little trouble at first getting a signal and when I did, I held the phone up to my ear and heard the message. I then began to dial a family member to see how things were going at home when I heard a heavy sigh, as though someone were seated next to my left shoulder and leaning toward my ear. I felt nothing and thought perhaps it was someone waiting at the elevators that I'd missed seeing coming down the long hallway in front of me. I peeked around the wall to the elevators and found it empty.

Chiding myself for watching 'The Shining" one too many times I sat back down on the step and redialed the number. Again the same sound--a heavy sigh--emitted near my left ear. I stood quickly, my heart racing and decided clearly I must have been disturbing somebody. All those same things happened to me as I pounded on the door for one of my roommates to let me in. The hairs on the back of neck and arms rose and a cold chill washed over me. That has never happened to me before.

The second incident the morning of the last day of the trip. Our plan didn't depart until later and my friends had things to do to help Heather. So I took my leave and went to my room to do some preliminary packing. It was perhaps mid to late morning and I was sorting things on my bed, when there was a knock on the door. I called out "just a moment, please" thinking it was one of my roomies forgetting her key, because room service had already been by.

There was no response, no sound of walking in the hallway or doors opening to other rooms. I walked the short distance to the door and peeked through the keyhole and saw no one. I then opened the door and looked down the long hall to my left--seeing nothing, and looked to my right a mere few feet  to "those" steps and the elevator bay--again, nothing.

This came the day after the incident above.

Now, you may or may not believe in such things and perhaps it was only my imagination. But even as I write this from my memory, my shoulder twitches and I shrug just as I did that night when jarred unexpectedly, heard that breath so near to my ear.

It made me a believer.

The Monteleone has many a tale within its spectacular walls as do many  of the grand historical places located in New Orleans. And as a plug to my dear friend, Heather Graham, I will tell you that her Annual Writers workshop that continues its support of New Orleans  and its economy after the Katrina devastation is worth every penny. Do yourself a favor and check it out. As an author New Orleans is a treasure trove of historical and cultural research! And don't forget a trip by carriage to the Cafe Du Monde!

If you want to feel like you've stepped back in time, if you want to see the grandeur and down-home hospitality that is quintessential New Orleans--after what I've experienced  I'd say there are those on 'both sides' of life--before & after--waiting to share their great city with you!