Boulder Theater was the third investigation I ever did as a young ghost hunter, the second with any kind of organized team. The first was a small restaurant called the Morrison Inn up by Red Rocks. There, I stayed quiet and watched the team, participating occasionally but seeing and beginning to understand how such a team works. It was the theater where I discovered that I could do this, that I’d done my research, I’d studied the techniques, I’d read the articles, and I was ready to go out and get some hands on experience. It was a few months later that I was cast on Academy and everything took off from there.
And so last night, sitting up in the nest that overlooked the stage, above one of the lighting booths, near the speaker controls, just out of sight of the audience seats and looking down at the curtains and stage lights, I thought back to four years ago. Sitting in this same spot. A novice. Where the dark wrapped me up and gave me that fluttery feeling in the deeper part of my stomach, the open door to the hallway behind me giving the sense of being watched, that I might be approached at any moment. Proud of myself for doing it, alone, but listening to the dark. Seeing what might happen. Wondering if there was someone else there beside me, watching and waiting as well.
Four years later wasn’t so different. And it was in the nest that I started my investigation that Sunday night again, alone. The darkness was different now. Less pressing. With more of a settled feeling. After a few minutes I softly asked questions, voice recorder running, flashlights on the floor. I’d gone back to using a few small devices, not feeling under-prepared the way I had four years before with only my two EMF meters and a voice recorder. Now, I prefered it in the dark with barely a handful of tools. I wasn’t there anymore to prove this to anyone, to record on six cameras, to take readings that would prove more scientific in conclusion. I wasn’t a part of the group, emulating TAPS, arriving ‘to help.’ I was there to watch. To learn, to listen. To experience and understand. To be a friend to the spirits in the dark.
In the past four years I traveled across the country, the world, helped with dozens of investigations at the Stanley, more still for frightened homeowners. I’ve lectured. I’ve studied. Researched. Theorized. Had experiences I cannot explain that fit no easy or obvious frameworks. I got a college degree. I wrote for magazines and blogs. Now I’m writing books. And I don’t know what the future will be. I don’t know where I’ll live come January. I don’t know if the books will take off or if the scraps will finally run out. I don’t know where next my fascination with this field will lead me. I’m exhausted and intimidated, lonely and poor, climbing up hill one step and a time with little support.
But in that moment, surrounded by darkness, invisible to the stage, to the team wandering about as they started their investigation, I wondered if this was how the spirits felt. If they could see both behind the curtain and in front, had to go out of their way to see the audience. If they were otherwise invisible in the dark and were happy enough just to sit, to watch, to wait.
And I felt at peace. It didn’t matter that I’d been couch-surfing for a week. That I had no place to call mine, any constant close friends, a significant other, or any hint of a steady income in my future. The stage creaked and popped and the curtains dangled heavy and the flashlights would occasionally flicker and my voice recorder rolled, and I knew that this was exactly where I was supposed to be. And that was just fine.