I’m generally not one to believe in ghosts, but every once in a while I’ll have a physical reaction to a place–a historic site, a field, a house, a grave. It’s the same kind of reaction every time. I’ll stop to look at something, and out of nowhere it will feel like my legs are being pulled down into the earth. The first time I felt it I was six or seven years old. My Brownie troop was going to march in a parade, and the starting point was a cemetery. We gathered on the pavement at the entrance gate, and when a car game through, we had to step off to the side onto the grass. My legs got so heavy I just froze, and when the troop leader told us to come back onto the sidewalk, I said I was stuck.
She came over to me and asked me what was wrong.
“I can’t move. I’m stuck.”
She looked down around my shoes.
“It’s just grass. You’re on a grave. Someone is buried there and you’re standing over them. They can’t hurt you. Come along now.”
She put her hand on my shoulder and boom, just like that, the feeling went away, like someone had replaced the cement in my legs with air. I felt so light I could have floated down Main Street.
It happened again at the Alamo. I normally don’t get creeped out by sites where a lot of people died, but the Alamo has a very bad vibe to it, for me at least. I felt uneasy almost from the second I stepped onto the grounds. At one point it started to rain, and everyone dashed inside. I dropped my umbrella and when I leaned down to get it, I put my hand on a wall and my legs felt like someone had turned on a giant magnet. One of the other tourists, a middle-aged man, asked me if I was okay.
“You look like you’re going to pass out.”
“I don’t like this place. It’s…bloody.”
His wife nodded and gently touched my arm. “Yes, it’s unsettling.”
As soon as she touched me, boom, just like that, the feeling went away. I thanked them for their kindness, put my umbrella up, and got out of there. I was creeped out for days after that.
Same with Gettysburg. I had taken a bike ride around the battlefield with friends, and we stopped for a water break. I stepped off the pavement onto the grass to retie my sneakers and the feeling was so strong, I fell to my knees.
“Lead legs?” one of the guys said.
“Maybe use a lower gear. The next part is uphill.”
He held a hand out to help me up, and when I put my hand in his, boom, just like that, the feeling went away.
It most recently happened to me at a cemetery in Spokane, Washington, but that’s a tale for another day.
Ever experience anything like that? What happened? Where were you when it happened?