When I was a child, my dad used to tell me scary stories and urban legends. My favorite story was about the Momo Monster (the Missouri version of bigfoot) and I remember the first writing competition I ever won was for a short story about that very monster. My love of all things weird was encouraged as I continued to write “scary” stories for school and watch creepy shows with my parents. As a teenager, my family became big fans of the X-Files and I suddenly had a desire to join the FBI and be a scientist like Agent Scully. That didn’t happen. Instead, I graduated high school and went on to study English creative writing in college. I got married, bought a house, and set out to lead a “normal” life. I also grew to love a new breed of “reality” tv in the form of “Ghost Hunters” as paranormal television first emerged.
During the recession of 2008, my husband and I sold our home in Southern Illinois and moved to Knoxville, TN to be closer to his mom. While looking for a full-time job, I also searched the internet for ways to spend my time in my new surroundings. Paranormal groups were on this list and I often talked about joining one, but didn’t do it. I think I was afraid to step out and do something that was perceived as weird or different. I was new in town and didn’t want to be the odd duck which is silly when I look back on it because I already was a little strange.
In September of 2010, my marriage fell apart and I was a bit lost. Unfortunately, I had formed an entire identity around my home and my husband. With this gone, I didn’t know who I was anymore and I desperately needed to find my place. I also needed a hobby to keep myself occupied. This is when I finally emailed the East Tennessee Paranormal Research Society and asked about membership.
October 24, 2010, I had my interview with the membership director of the team. How do I remember the date? It was the same date as the 2010 Zombie Walk. Yes, that is a thing, see the video here (https://youtu.be/LcIhGnZPgvs). Anyway, I remember the zombies wandering around Market Square but not the restaurant where we met. I like to say that the meeting was to determine if I was crazy but really it was so they could make sure I would be a good fit for the team. Ultimately, they determined I was ok and invited me to ghost hunt with the team at Old South Pittsburgh Hospital in November. I agreed because “why not” and they arranged for a couple of team members to pick me up at my home and take me to South Pittsburgh, TN (roughly 2 hours away from my house). This is where I start to think that they were wrong and I actually was crazy because when the day came to go ghost hunting, I climbed into the vehicle of a complete stranger and went on an adventure.
This is the point where I tell my readers to use more common sense than I did in this situation. This could have gone very bad for me but thankfully, the ladies who picked me up were wonderfully kind. I spent that evening locked in a “haunted” hospital with people I had just met and it changed my life. I didn’t see any ghosts or experience anything particularly abnormal but I did catch the investigation bug. I wanted to understand why we see things that may not be there and if they are, how they can exist outside of the range of normal perception.
We all get into the paranormal for different reasons. I needed a direction and found mine in a group of people on their own journey for answers. It’s our different paths that make us a spirited community. Appreciate the journey that got you here and keep asking questions.
Until next time, Happy Hunting!