Kim Nelson: I Want to Believe

believe 2In our marriage, my husband is the Scully and I’m the Mulder. While he is skeptical of any outrageous-sounding headline or too-good-to-be-true anecdote, I love to fully buy into them and believe. I’m semi-obsessed with the Loch Ness Monster, ghost stories, and alien encounters. It’s not so much that I actually think that they are real. I just really want them to be. I’m all for science, proof, and concrete evidence, but those things just aren’t as fun as Bigfoot sightings.

Before we bought our house earlier this summer, I Googled the address along with the word ‘murder’ to make sure that it wouldn’t be haunted. I can deal with ghosts of people who died of natural causes; most of them are probably pretty chill as they were allowed to live out a decently long life. Maybe they just want to hang around to see how Mad Men wraps up, and I can’t fault them for that. Murder ghosts, on the other hand, are angry and have unsettled business on this mortal plane of existence so I’d feel pretty uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with one. Unlike me, my husband would happily buy a murder house if it had a full chef’s kitchen and original woodwork.

Even though our house passed the Google test, I still get a little jumpy when I am home alone at night. I know that I bring all of this onto myself by choosing to watch horror movies, read Stephen King novels, and fall into wiki wormholes reading up on Delphine Lalaurie (a socialite/serial killer whose mansion in New Orleans is rumored to be haunted by the slaves she had tortured to death) or the Jersey Devil (an East Coast urban legend inspired by Native American folklore).* When camping, I am more afraid of the Blair Witch than bear attacks. But even though creaky noises in the middle of the night set my pulse racing (because obviously a restless soul trapped between dimensions makes way more sense than the house “settling”), I don’t give up my ghost stories. The belief of something else being out there keeps me on my toes. It makes things interesting.

My husband the Scully is a mechanical engineer by profession, so for him it makes sense to approach life armed with hard facts. His world needs to be based on logic and provable outcomes. After living together for the last six years, we’ve found a nice balance–he accompanies me to all of the haunted houses I want to hit up each October, letting me  grab onto him whenever I get freaked out. In exchange, I’ll listen to his Neil DeGrasse Tyson podcasts and The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe when we’re in the car together. His practical dubiousness has also led me to explore the reason behind my fascination with fantasy. Why do we love ghosts stories and urban legends? Why is it fun to be scared? I’ve learned that when I am open to believing in things, my imagination stays active. Everything’s more interesting when it has a story behind it, and the more fantastic the story, the more fun it is to share. Being scared, even if it’s because I’m being “chased” through a converted paintball arena by a community theater actor waving a chainsaw minus the chain, pushes me beyond the tedium and routine of everyday life. It lets us flirt with the dark side without totally going over the cliff. Sure, I’m probably never going to actually see anything when I click onto the Loch Ness live-cam. But just think how awesome a story it would be if something did appear.

*You’re welcome for those links and sorry about your sleep tonight.

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