I Grew Up Next Door To a Cemetery

This post appeared on Write Blog Connect several months ago, but I thought I’d share it here to give my readers some insight as to why I love writing about the paranormal.

I always loved watching people’s reactions when I told them I lived on Cemetery Road. Especially when I had to give directions to my house, which ended with “turn right at the giant crucifix”. Most people were shocked and more than a little creeped out. And most of the time, they’d tell me so. Like suddenly I was creepy because of my street’s name.

crucifix

Turn Right Here!

So, I’d just add fuel to the fire by telling them my house was next door to the cemetery. Literally. The only things separating my home from the graveyard were a narrow, dirt road and a row of bushes. They just thought they were creeped out before. Ha!

But the question I never could answer was, “What’s it like living next door to a cemetery?” I’d shrug my shoulders and mumble something like, “I dunno. It’s fine, I guess.”

I moved out of that house in 1998, when I was twenty-two years old. Now I’m forty, and I’ve had time to reflect on how having dead people for neighbors affected my life.

For one thing, when I was very young, I thought my parents owned the cemetery. I can’t remember when I finally understood that it wasn’t ours, but it always felt like part of my home. We moved into that house when I was two years old, so I learned about death at an early age. I’d see the processionals and the fresh graves. Sometimes, I’d even find one that was dug, but the funeral hadn’t made it there yet. My friend Chris jumped down inside one once. And honestly? They aren’t six feet deep.

I used to enjoy walking through the cemetery in the afternoon. It was quiet. Calm. I always felt an essence of peaceful serenity when I was there. I would read the gravestones and wonder what the deceased were like in life. Were they nice people? Were they adventurous? Timid? I’d make up stories in my mind about the people whose remains lay just a few feet beneath me.

horizontal graveNighttime was a different story, though. Especially when I was a teenager. Living on the Gulf Coast, it was more than little humid. An eerie fog liked to collect on the ground, and the headlights reflected off the gravestones as I drove past. It was freaky to say the least. Sometimes I’d park my car 4 feet from the front door and dart inside as quickly as I could. I don’t know why a place that was so peaceful during daylight scared me so much at night.

I suppose you could say I was fascinated with death—but not in a morbid way. I found the different beliefs associated with death interesting. From the Egyptian mummies, to Christian burials to cremation. Why did people make such a big deal out of what to do with the body? The person wasn’t there anymore. Only the shell that housed their spirit remained. I decided early on that funerals aren’t really for the deceased. They’re for the survivors. For the family and friends. Funerals are simply a way for people to grieve.

To this day, I’m still drawn to cemeteries. There’s just something about them that makes me feel comfortable and connected to the world. Maybe the spirits of the deceased are still hanging around. Maybe they enjoy my company. Who knows?

What I do know is that my fascination with death and cemeteries is what fuels my drive for writing about the paranormal.

 

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