We often underestimate how much of our childhood we carry with us in the day-to-day – not to mention deeper inheritances, like religion and age-old superstition. Allison Stone digs into the occult undercurrents of her upbringing, and finds arcane skeletons and ghosts.
As a child I had convinced myself on more than one occasion that I could see ghosts. Maybe it was the imprint of a dense Catholic education and attending so many open-casket funerals. Maybe it was because my older brother watched too many scary movies. In any case, at ten years old, it is hard to erase the presence of a corpse from your malleable and hyperactive consciousness. These days, although I try not to think about anything for longer than maybe ten minutes at a time, I still carry a preoccupation with the supernatural. Of the many traits she passed on to me, my mother’s religious hypochondriasis manifests itself in me in its own ways – but I wear it more like paranoia, and superstition. My jewelry and key chains rattle with saints medals, gifted to me in earnest to protect me from evil. Although I usually pass for secular, the little jingling tokens spilling out of my purse and wallet always give me away. Certainly no amount of prayer or sacraments can stop a force of nature, but maybe it can act as a placebo for a few hours, while you prepare yourself to grieve.
Stepping into my childhood home you’re immediately surrounded by the cozy, unpretentious decor of a Midwestern homestead. Precious family heirlooms, religious paraphernalia and an array of knickknacks are littered about with the same level of reverence. On the kitchen table, bills and coupons pile up like a centerpiece. Rosaries are stuffed into the drawers full of envelopes and the nice table linens, ones that only get pulled out for special occasions. Looming above the family portraits and themed monthly calendar is a large, ornate metal Celtic cross. Among the decorative plates and propped-up greeting cards on the shelves of the antique hutch are a few vials of holy water, of varying size and origin. Before I leave for long trips, my mother makes a point to anoint me with the blessed water. I appreciate the gesture.