The first ghost I ever saw was a cat. Well, I should clarify. The first ghost I ever saw that I knew was a ghost was a cat.
And I feel like I should clarify further, because I feel like what I just said makes me look dippy or insane, and I assure you that I am neither of those things. I am also not the kind of person who believes in things that allegedly occurs on ghost hunting shows or shows where mouthy ladies who like getting up in everyone’s business claim to receive messages from the dead. I don’t believe in a lot of ghost stories, actually, because I know that the majority of what people consider to be ghostly phenomena is easily attributable to suggestion, hysteria, and faulty home infrastructure.
I also know that some ghost stories are real, though, and that most of the real ones are the ones nobody ever hears anything about on TV, in movies, or in books. The real ones are what people talk about in families when everyone gets drunk and it’s late, or what everyone just sort of knows to be true and it isn’t a big deal because it’s just how things are.
In my family, it’s just how things are. I don’t want to go into historical detail about what “things” means, though. Frankly, it’s none of your business. Also, it’s not even a big deal and nobody in my family is a mystic freak. Lastly, it feels a little less special if everybody knows everything. I only wrote what I wrote above because I needed to lay a foundation for what I’m about to say, and I’m only saying that because it makes me really happy. You’ll see, I guess.
Okay, so, the first ghost I ever saw was a cat. It was my cat, an orange tabby named Walker who was, according to the vet, clinically retarded. My mom had had Walker before I was born. Walker was part of a litter that lived in the garage of my mom’s neighbor, whose last name was Walker. This Mr. Walker was a young man who eventually killed himself, so my mom took this kitten in and named her Walker.
I liked Walker a lot. Of the four cats we had growing up, she was my favorite. Yes, she was stupid, but she was also very sweet, liked me a lot, too, and was the only cat who didn’t revenge piss by hanging her ass out of the side of the litter box whenever she was mad. Walker died of old age sometime around fourth or fifth grade for me. A few months after she died, I saw her in our basement.
Our cats mostly stayed in our basement. They could come upstairs whenever they wanted, but seemed to like having one half of the house to themselves. It was partially finished, anyway, so we were down there for some time every day to hang out with them. One day, I was getting something out of the pantry closet under the basement stairs when I turned my head to see Walker standing there, looking at me.
“Hey Walker,” I said.
Then I turned back to the pantry, got something out, and closed the door behind me. I side-stepped Walker on my way out and even looked back one more time to see her turn around and take a few steps to follow me. Then I looked ahead again, and with my foot on the first basement step, stopped myself and thought “uh, what now?”
And Walker was gone. I mean, obviously. I’d seen her, though, and while I can’t say for sure how these things happen or even what they are (I don’t know, repeating static energy or something?), it definitely did happen and I didn’t think much about it until years later when I started feeling a cat walking around on my bed. I was living in Virginia at the time, and while I did have The Cat then, he was never allowed in the bedroom, to the point that he was angry about it and tore up a 3-inch strip of carpet by sticking his asshole paw under the door and just clawing at it to express his displeasure. Still, he was never allowed in there.
I’d feel this ghost cat walking around with slow, somewhat tentative steps down by my legs. This happened while I was awake, but still in a sleepy stage either in the middle of the night or in the morning. I want to be very firm about the fact that I was always awake, that I never dreamed any part of it and that the footsteps were on my bed instead of felt in my body, and that I was always aware that while it was happening, there was definitely no cat in the room. Uninterrupted, the walking could continue for minutes on end, but it would always stop when I sat up to look or swept my leg over to the area where it was happening. This has continued to happen ever since, in different apartments in different states, sometimes disappearing for months before starting up again with no discernible pattern.
Until recently, I hadn’t felt it since moving to Seattle and that made me sad. It wasn’t like I thought the distance was a factor, because although I admit having no idea what’s behind this or how it happens, I was pretty sure that if it was a ghost cat (and it feels exactly like a cat even when no cat is there, so?), it wasn’t bound by standard laws of time and space. I’d been kind of glum about it for awhile, actually, because this comforting thing that had followed me for over a decade was suddenly gone and I didn’t know why. It just felt like I lost it, and I was pretty bummed.
Then I felt it on Sunday morning. I didn’t get too excited at first or immediately associate it with this whole thing, but I let it happen for about a minute before I lazily moved my leg over to the spot and sat up to look. No cat. No The Cat, either. The door was closed, there was nothing there, and instead of being freaked out or upset, I was so happy that it finally found me here, and that even if I didn’t feel it for awhile again, at least it had come back.