Friday, May 22, 2009

If those walls could talk

I lived at the apartment at 8305 S. Lakewood Place in Tulsa for three-and-a-half years. It was a beautiful second-floor unit with windows that made me feel like I was living in a beach house. That was one of the reasons I had picked that apartment. That and the vaulted ceilings that made the cream-walled apartment feel so spacious and full of light. The windows overlooked the parking lot of the suburban apartment complex that was located next to the green Hope Hill. The words I'm looking for are serene and heavenly.

Maybe that is why I never felt frightened when the light in my bedroom began to flicker and randomly turn itself on and off. The light was attached to the ceiling fan. I would wonder sometimes why the light would be on when I woke up in the morning, or why the room was dark after I had turned the light on in the evening. I complained to the apartment maintenance folks several times, and they only changed the light bulb at first. Then they tried fixing the light attachment a couple of times. Then they finally replaced the entire fan/light unit. I felt jubilant until the problem started in the new equipment they had installed. They still couldn't figure it out, so I bought a reliable lamp for my room. This problem lasted until I moved out.

I had previously lived in a dorm room for 6 years, and was uncomfortable with the idea of sleeping in one room while the rest of the apartment loomed dark and empty. So I'd developed the habit of locking my bedroom door after turning in for the night. My thermostat was located on the wall outside my bedroom door, and I'd always check its settings before going to sleep. I'd also check it in the morning after waking up.

The first time something struck me as odd was when I noticed one morning that the thermostat had been turned off when I distinctly remembered turning it on the night before. I shrugged it off to absent-mindedness until it happened a few more times. The thermostat would be on a setting different from what I'd set it to the previous night. The thermostat wasn't digital; it had a stiff knob that you had to click to 'On' or 'Off' with considerable pressure. There was no way for it to change on its own.

I was going through a lot of stress in those days, so I thought that maybe I'd woken up at night and changed the settings and gone back to sleep without remembering anything. Maybe I was sleepwalking. My parents had once noticed my walking to the front door in my sleep when I was very young. I have no memory of that event, except that I know I had had a fever then. But I was worried this time because my sleepwalking would have had to involve my going to the bedroom door, unlocking it, changing the thermostat setting, locking the door again, and going back to bed. It didn't feel right and still doesn't.

My mother was visiting me once, and she used to sleep in the living room where the TV was. She would stay up after I'd gone to sleep (I had to wake up early to go to work). Every night she was there, I'd lie in bed with my door slightly ajar. I could see the light from the living room and hear the TV.

One night, as I lay in bed perfectly awake and waiting to drop off to sleep, I heard my mother shuffling outside my door for a few seconds before making her way, I assumed, to the bathroom a couple of feet from my door. Nothing much crossed my mind except the awareness of that fact.
The next day I forgot all about it until I happened to mention it to my mother in relation to some other topic. She startled and said that she had not gone to the bathroom the previous night. I insisted that I had heard her footsteps come up to my door, pause there for a bit before going away. I was sure of it. My floorboards used to creak whenever someone moved about my apartment, and I could tell exactly when and where someone was walking and even pausing by the sound. My mother still insisted that she hadn't been anywhere near my door.

I'm sure there are good explanations for these things. If my apartment was haunted, I would've felt scared at some point, but I never did. The ambience was always cosy and protective. Maybe the vaulted ceilings and beach-house windows had something to do with it.

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