I left Seattle when I was 12.
We packed up the big, oddly-shaped house I'd spent what felt like a lifetime in (it was actually only six years) and put everything in a moving van to speed off to Texas.
People talk about how their homes feel empty, like a shell, once all their stuff is gone. But the house in View Ridge never felt that way. Even with our couch and our beds and our TV gone, the house still felt alive; counting down the minutes to the end, right along with us.
I still a little pang of guilt, thinking about that house. Like we abandoned it. We never released it to the next owners.
I realized recently that I don't think about that house like just any other place I've lived. I've lived in a lot of homes, each one having some special, shining memory that defines it. But the house in View Ridge defies definition; in fact, I'd say it defined me.
I ran through it's off-kilter hallways, and slammed around it's corners hiding from ghosts and pretending I was a horse. The backyard and the ravine beyond it was my refuge after school where my dog Misty and I had our own circus, complete with her death defying tricks (jumping over a pile of shoes) and my sweet, sweet dance moves (as a horse). As the sun went down, I knew it was time to go inside when the large, gray, shadow man would loom between the apple tree and the shed.
He wasn't real. I don't think. But my fear of him was.
The basement was both my playground and the scariest place in the house. I would roller skate in tiny circles on the red, industrial carpet, jerking my head toward the wooden staircase now and again when footsteps echoed down them. Sometimes it was my mom coming home from work – usually it wasn't.
Once, this old toy "robot" that hadn't worked in years (of course) came to life momentarily and "beep-boop-beeped" the living shit out of 10-year-old Louise. Still, I kept skating.
I was stubborn and determined to play my games (Ice Capades, smart ass roller skating waitress/undercover She-Ra, Flashdance on skates) in spite of...whatever was on the stairs.
Or in the hallway.
Or under the apple tree.
In the View Ridge house I "played my games" in that frightening but thrilling spot between fear and ease. That house, with the doors that opened and slammed shut on their own, with the lights that never stayed off, with the things we all saw moving in the night, taught me less about facing my fears, and more about walking with them.
I don't remember getting on a plane in Seattle and landing in Dallas. I don't remember walking out of my house that morning, with my stuffed pony Molly in tow. What I do remember is sitting in my uncle's car, pulling away from the house, and watching my street blur by. For the first time in my life, I consciously begged myself to remember every house, every tree, every bump in the road – my piano teacher, Mr. Celli's house; the overgrown grassy strip across the street where Misty liked to pee; the muddy corner where the sidewalk ended and my bike slipped, skinning my thigh.
I commanded myself to never forget what it felt like to leave the place that felt like everything that was me; I grabbed onto it and held on tight.
And as I reach the edge of that moment, the memory that I willed into existence, I remember wondering about the house. What would become of the spirits that scared us, watched over us, slipped just beyond our sight?
Were they just for us? Would they fade with time? Would they follow us? Would they miss us? Would the next family that moved in glance over their shoulder as often as we had?
What would become of my ghosts?
And that is where I find myself tonight. What will become of my Creeps?
As I write this, the last Creepy Corner, I'm again caught somewhere between fear and ease. It's Creepy Corner's time to ascend to that great, dark porch in the sky, of that I'm sure, but oh how I loathe goodbyes.
Excuse me while I fumble this.
Thank you Creepy Corneristas. You made my dream come true. When Creepy Corner became a regular thing, I remember saying to Mr. Louise, "Can you believe it? They're actually going to PAY ME to write about ghosts and death! And people want to READ IT!"
This "little column that could" started off as a lark, a place to ramble on about all the haunted stuff that made me happy. You can't imagine my delight when I realized that it made so many of you happy too.
But you made Creepy Corner evolve. You asked for more. You asked that your spooky stories have more than just chills; you asked that they have a heart and a conscience. You asked that respect be the spine of Creepy Corner, and that is what I believe is Creepy Corner's legacy.
Respect for the dead, respect for skepticism, respect for belief, respect for human life, respect for history, respect for the different ways we are frightened; Creepy Corner didn't set out to be all about "respect" but through your guidance and kindness, that is what it became. And that is where we leave it.
Thank you Creepy Corneristas. I'll say this for the millionth time: you made Creepy Corner the best darn community on the Internet.
Amidst all the judgement, hate, and intolerance permeating the world these days, it was a joy to come to our weird little space every week, share a strange story, and know that we were safe.
I will miss you more than you will ever know.
I've been saying this a lot in the past few days, "xoJane taught me how to be a writer." And that's true. But Creepy Corner taught me how to take responsibility for my words, to remember that behind every story – no matter how terrifying or bizarre – is a human being, no matter how far off or long ago.
So here we are. "Here lies Creepy Corner..."
Nothing is forever. We Creepy Corneristas know that better than anybody. We like it that way.
And like the house in View Ridge, I will never forget you Creeps. You made me better, braver.
Keep on skating.
Walk with your fears (play imaginary dancing circus horses with them), but try not to let them own the darkness.
I don't know what will become of you, my beloved Creepy Corneristas, but I thank you. Thank you for the Gef the Mongoose "drinking game", thank you for so bravely and generously sharing your stories, thank you for making me laugh, making me cry, and most of all, for keeping me awake at night.
You have my dark, dusty heart, Creepy Corneristas. There will always be room for you in my corner.
Keep on creepin'.
PLEASE stay in touch with me! There are lots of ways to do that!
The Creepy Corner Facebook page. I have some DEATHLY things on the horizon...
The Creeps Podcast – yes that's right! Me, and some of my spooky pals are starting a podcast! Coming in January.
The Louise Hung Facebook page, stay up-to-date on what I'm doing and where I'm writing!
My Patreon page! Think of it as a subscription to ME.