November 17, 2018

I Believe in Ghosts

“Two years ago, faced with the rising cost of living in the greater Boston area, my family decided to put our lots in together and buy a property that could accommodate my middle sister, Kerri; my mother; and my oldest sister, Kirsten, her husband and their two children. I live in New York, but I was a part of this too, if only because of that fantasy of every kid who has grown up poor — that I would know I was successful when I could buy my mother a house.

I couldn’t, alone, afford to buy a house for her. We all bought this house together. If you live close to any major city in the United States and are not part of a family with the wealth and means to secure stable housing, chances are you’ve experienced this kind of displacement in the past decade — the kind that means that the place you know as your home does not belong to you. I have a friend from rural Tennessee who has seen even his family graveyard swept up by developers hoping to “revitalize” the holler.

During the search, my family drove farther and farther from Boston proper, to the center of the state, to look at farmhouses and estates and double-deckers. We had a weekly phone call on Sundays to discuss the finds. The primary question from my sisters and me, much to my mother’s and brother-in-law’s annoyance, was, “Is the property haunted?”

“I didn’t necessarily feel anything,” was often said. Sometimes, “No, there was definitely something watching us.” Or even, “The kids said they saw a shadow.””

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