I can't sleep. My room in our old Louisiana home feels as warm as Antartica, and I decide to go into my sister's smaller, cozier room. I'm finally relaxing when I feel a faint pressure on my ankle. First, I think it's just some bugs. Then, whatever is touching me takes the form of a hand. As I'm thinking, The heck kinda bugs are these? my leg gets yanked so hard it actually makes me move. I FREAK. That was no bug. Or maybe it was some extraterrestrial bug. Idk. My mind is basically noodles at this point. I shake my sister awake, who tells me the same thing had happened to her the week prior, and, thinking it was me pranking her, had gone back to sleep.
That was the night I started believing in ghosts.
A bunch of unexplainable things have happened to me since then: I've heard loud footsteps while home alone and toilets flushing out of nowhere, and my pillows have mysteriously rearranged after I leave my room. The list goes on. And every time, I've flipped out more than when Soraya Montenegro caught Nandito making out with the chick in the wheelchair.
Anyway, I'm an adult now, and by definition, an adult is someone who doesn't need to cuddle a stuffed animal and turn on their star-shaped night-light when they hear a creak coming from their closet (like I do). So, in an effort to actually act like an adult, I decided to make a really bold wish: to become a ghost hunter for a day. Why? I wanted to be in charge this time; I wanted to scare the spirits out of their Victorian dungeon as opposed to them always being the ones who came for me. I WANTED REVENGE!!! JK — I was just ready to stop being such a wuss.
Enter Jason and Lisa. Jason is a member of the New York Paranormal Society, and Lisa is the director of special events of One If by Land, Two If by Sea, one of the most haunted restaurants in New York City (and the old carriage house of Aaron Burr — the guy who fatally shot Hamilton). So what do you get when you mix the two? A fun* day of ghost-hunting in a beautifully spooky spot!
Jason, our paranormal investigator, and the devices he brought: a vibration sensor, an electromagnetic wave detector, a camcorder with night vision, a tape recorder, an old-school compass, a motion detector you can arm on the wall, and an infrared thermometer.
The lovely restaurant One If by Land, Two If by Sea.
When I met Jason, he explained the instruments he uses most are the tape recorder ('cause you may not hear a spirit in person, but upon playing it you could hear a scream or two) and the electromagnetic field detector (EMD), which spikes up when sensing electromagnetic activity (aka ~spirits~).
As he talked, one thing he said stood out to me: “A lot of times, you hear or see something right as you put your cameras away." It’s like the ghosts know when you’re looking and only peek into your room once you’re distracted by a bag of spicy chips.
I legit thought Jason was immediately going to grab his devices and be like, “OK, let’s get these bastardsss!!!” But no. His mission, he said, is always to find rational explanations as to why the EMD thingy starts acting possessed…and it’s usually only because you’re close to certain appliances. That's right. Basically, what you think could be your deceased tío abuelo trying to say goodbye one last time may just be your refrigerador. Boo-hoo.
Lisa told us the two most haunted places of the restaurant were the staircase near the mezzanine, where a woman in a long white gown has been said to appear coming down, and a newer area in the main floor.
The two most haunted spots.
After showing us the restaurant (which was completely empty), Lisa descended into the underworld (aka her office), and Jason, our photographer Lauren, and I decided we’d had enough human talk — we were ready to talk to a ghost.
We went up to the mezzanine and Jason explained that, when speaking to a ghost, you want to talk as you would to a small child or a drunk (I may have added that drunk part). “Ask questions that can be answered 'yes' or 'no,'" he instructed. Then we began.
First, Jason asked, “Are you here?” The EMD showed an activity of 00.4. He asked again, “Are you here?” Nothing. Then, the EMD flickered and moved to 00.5. Jason asked “it” to move closer. The EMD went up to 00.6 . The hair on my body stood so high it would've made Guy Fieri's hair seem flaccid in comparison. I asked Jason if he believed in Ouija boards, and he said that once, the board had shown the name of his deceased uncle, EXCEPT Jason did not find out this was his name until years later (he explained it was an unusual name and his uncle had always used a more common one). I blurted out, “Yeah, it’s not like it’s a name like Jake or something." Jason looked at me as I would look at someone eating tacos with a fork and knife. “That’s my son’s name," he said. I don’t even know why I said the name Jake; I know exactly zero Jakes. Maybe I have ghost and Ouija board powers. #blessed
Here's me trying to get in touch with ghosts, then immediately regretting my decision to do so.
The EMD continued to “respond” until we asked for the ghost’s age…then it kinda stopped, which I mean, I understand. Not even my abuelita would be happy to be like, “Oh, I’ll be 330 years this June." We decided to go downstairs to the other area, but the spirits weren’t too chatty there and we gave up.
Jason explained ghost-hunting yields the best results at night, when we aren’t distracted by police sirens or ringing phones. Apparently, once the electrical power is off, the EMD readings may actually be a sign of something. So maybe ghosts are chilling among us in broad daylight, and we’re just not paying attention. They may be standing before you in line at the coffee shop. They may also love cake pops. Who knows.
At that point, our team scattered, and Lauren and Jason went to sit at the bar. I decided that if the ghosts weren’t coming out, my basicness sure was and started to snap a little bit. I ran up the haunted staircase, only to flip out when I ran into an employee at the top. I walked back down, and as I stepped off the last step, a computer next to me lit up and the mouse on the screen went craaazy. My body froze so tightly a mummy could've passed as a gymnast had one been next to me. You see, that screen only moves with touch. I turned to Jason and Lauren and asked if they had seen it happen too. Of course they hadn’t.
The dang ghosts had gotten me again. I thought about what Jason had said earlier: The weirdest things happen when you aren’t hunting.
Once I was done freaking out, I sat down with Jason and asked what he thought of my ghost-hunting skills. He said I was an excellent candidate to enter the Paranormal Society. But honestly, I don’t feel like I need to go out looking for supernatural stuff — spirits will probably continue to follow me, showing their blurry ghost faces when I’m deeply immersed in celebrity chisme or something. But this experience definitely led me to take a less fearful stance toward them and instead maintain a clear, calm, and composed mindset. Come at me, ghosts.