Welcome back to my favorite month of the year, October. It's a time when the world transforms from the living to the dormant, the leaves change color, the air turns crisp and thoughts turn to costumes, ghosts, haunted houses and Halloween.
For some reason, October has been a transformative month for me since I've become an adult. I never really thought about it when I was younger but now when I look at the calendar year, October seems to be a paramount month in the year. Considering magic is my love, my passion and my avocation for most of my life, October seems well suited to be "my month".
As I have discussed in past columns, October is National Magic Month and Halloween is National Magic Day. One of the modern world's greatest showmen and probably foremost escape artist, Harry Houdini died on Halloween afternoon. The modern discoverer of the New World Christopher Columbus is honored this month also.
My professional career seems tied to this month as well. Five months after graduating from college and three months after landing my first technology position, I found out what it was like to be downsized and then within three weeks land a new job. Twenty years later, I have found the cycle repeats itself and I have been downsized from another technology job again, however this time I have not figured out my next position yet, but I plan to have a good idea of my direction by the end of this month. In between this 20 year cycle, all three of my previous information technology positions began in the month of October.
Even at a personal level, many of my most significant life events occurred in October. I closed on our house in October 15 years ago, divorced in October, was engaged in October to the love of my life, married in October and most importantly my beautiful daughter Kathryn was born two years ago this coming Thursday. Even though I'm a Christmas baby, I've become an adopted October son which fits my interests in the mysterious, the unknown, magic and the paranormal.
My interest in the paranormal began with a book of ghost stories in the PV Middle School library, a book of spooky, terrifying English ghost stories. No one tells a ghost story in my opinion better than an English or Scottish writer. The environment there with its foggy moors, old castles and manor homes and rich folklore lends itself to the best ghost stories. It would be a few years later before I experienced the first possible encounter with "the unknown" even though it took many more years to realize what it actually was.
I was about thirteen years old and running a fever. My parents took me to the doctor as the fever was showing no signs of stopping and he gave me a shot of penicillin to fight the infection. They brought me home and tucked me in bed hoping the fever would break and I turn the corner. Probably within a few hours of that evening visit to the physician, my fever broke as I remember sweating horribly. I was tossing and turning. It was late as the hall light was off and the little lamp was lit. My parents were still downstairs as I could hear the television playing.
I was lying with the head of the bed on the wall that also had the door for the room, but I was facing away from it. I became aware of someone in the doorway and turned to look but there was no person in the door, however I did see a shadow in the entrance that slipped into the hall. I was too tired to think any more about it and it was not until years later when I shared the memory with my brother that he told me he shared that experience several times in our house.
Years later, the shadow appeared in my house a month or so after my ex-wife and I moved to Summit Hill. I was lying in bed and could see down to the end of the hall. The room at the end left light in from the neighbor's outdoor light so it was never totally dark. Early that morning, I was awakened by a man's voice that simply spoke my name, "David". I had heard the voice many years before in my parent's house one night, and now here it was again. I cautiously opened my eyes thinking there would be someone there, but there was no one next to my ear. As I pondered this occurrence, I happened to look down the hall and there at the end was nothing. It was totally black with no light penetrating it.
As I watched I could see it had form and within a minute, the form moved to the stairs and dissolved and soon the hallway was normal again. I never said anything about it at the time, but as I reflect on it I realized the shadows were similar. That was by far not my only encounter with the mysterious but it served as an introduction to what was to come.
Til next time….