I’ve been a fan of John Green for a while now, even though, I must admit, I have never read any of his work. In theaters, friends and I have seen The Fault in Our Stars and just recently I went with Hannah, Ryan, and Sam to see Paper Towns. At first I didn’t know how I felt about it. There were funny parts throughout, especially when Ben began singing the Pokemon theme song in the abandoned building to avoid being scared. But even without reading Green’s actual words, and just watching his story through a screen that projected most of when he had said, it created something.
It was a Sunday night and I had planned on going to a different haunted hospital a few towns over, because we wanted to see more I guess. The day had been filled with ghost stories and various paranormal hearings, so we were ready for a scare.
Our original group of six became a group of four, which I was happy about because a crowd can cause much noise and satisfactory rates to shift spastically. We parked and snuck around, avoiding a car that looked very much occupied that ended up not being so, and came around back. There was a ruffling in the leaves and branches to my left, suddenly a burst of speed and nervousness shot from the area and across my viewing point. I swear it was a person, frightened or instigating, but they all thought it was a dog, but still I am not convinced.
We spent a lot of our time on this abandoned lot searching for a weak point that would allow access into this four story building, but they were good at locking up and hiding. Zip ties couldn’t hold us back but nails and boards could.
It was funny, walking around this dark ominous perimeter. Fences were built out of sticks and I wondered if we should go over them, but we didn’t. The fence would have been easily knocked down with a slight push, but none of us did it. Either because we were unsure of what was beyond or just being polite toward the builder. Whatever it was, the sticks kept us out and I find that more curious than the windows themselves.
At a corner, corners seemed to cause most of the problems, there was a clear voice. It came from a distance, but was clear and male. But we didn’t pursue the words and as quickly as they had come, they left, and so did we.
In the bank parking lot we brainstormed. And us four just sitting there brought Paper Towns to our minds. But let me rewind for a moment. Sam had mentioned how much he loved the Pokemon scene that he went out of his way to download the song and learn the words a few days before, and so it was Hannah’s and my mission to also learn the lyrics so we, as a trio, could sing it whenever we would get scared to prepare us for what was up ahead.
Then Salem popped up. Ideas of witches, revengeful spirits, and Ann Putnam brought excitement to our first failed attempt at ghost hunting. Salem however is a hour and thirty minutes away and it was 10:30pm when we thought of it. But in moment we all thought of the movie, and this became our road trip. Instead of Agloe, NY it was Salem, MA.
We drove and drove and reached a gas station. Now if you have seen the movie, or read the book, there is a part where all the kids run into the store and grab supplies under a time restraint, and that is what we felt we were apart of. “Ryan gets gas, Sam drinks, Hannah and Arica snacks. Okay break.” It didn’t quite go as structured as that, in fact no one bought any snacks, which we did regret later that night, but the idea of it was humorous. The whole road trip was going almost just as the movie: inspired and spontaneous.
Tunnels of bright whites and yellows filled the car, and we drove as if there was nothing else in this world but us. It felt so infinite yet small all the same. Someone, Ryan possibly, mentioned planes, and we talked about where we would go if we were given a free ticket right then and there, but the world reappeared and it grew in size once again and the tunnel that made us glow faded into just a city light and I remembered why I liked cities so much then and why I was moving to one in less than a month and I sat back and let the music take over my thoughts.
We arrived to Salem eventually, and Sam read up on a place called Gallows Hill, but as it turned out Salem was not like it was back when the Crucible was set. Salem was very much urbanized and that only meant that the hill was very much a neighborhood now, not a hill covered in trees that witches were once hung. No it was not like that anymore. “Everything old and haunted gets turned into luxury condos nowadays..” -Ryan
We were driving to a graveyard, and Hannah was not having it. Graveyards were not her thing, but we drove all the way to Salem for some type of scare and this was the only thing that could deliver. Without anyone noticing for a whole minute the Pokemon theme song was on. And we parked the car in this empty lot in the center of the perfectly lined stones and we got out and walked down the dark path lit by an occasional street light singing silently to ourselves.
A drunk singing turned Hannah around, and we followed secretly glad she had. Only to figure out the singing came from a bar up the street, not where the car was parked. Back at the car with all doors open just resting on the hood we needed a new plan. “Why did we come here?” Was thrown about and none of us could get a good answer out. Why did we come here? What were we actually looking for?
But it wasn’t like that, although we didn’t know that the mini road trip wasn’t for fear and adrenaline, it was for something much more. We went back toward Boston, and we stopped at the JFK Library, now it being around 1am. We walked down steps that looked like ones Rocky would climb and jump up and down on. “This is probably the most quiet it ever is.” Mentioned one of the three, does it really matter who? We sat on these white pillars that lined the harbor’s edge and looked out to the calm waters and skyline of glittering lights and shadows too. We did not talk so much then, only listened to things that drifted in the air and further out.
It was time to go, and we walked the empty lot that could fit hundreds of cars, and talked about our families and friends and stopped once we sat down on the car seats. We said goodbye to Hannah, and then I said goodbye to the boys, and that was it. I was home, and the road trip had ended. And just like in Agloe, they did not find what they were looking for upon arriving, but once they were all back home they realized that they had, but it had very little to do with what the destination was suppose to provide. It was about moving on and making something real. Because life is real, and it is not always the case that ghosts are too.