When the Thaw Comes

When the Thaw Comes

by Guest Blogger,
Erin K. Parker

41loSxeo0YL._SL_300_Six months after life pulled the rug out from under me, I decide to run away from the suburbs of Los Angeles and go back to school in a safer, slower world. Safe is more important than slow, but slow is appealing. I long for my old out of state college in the foothills of the Wasatch Front. I want the red canyons of Color Country. I want mountains covered with quaking aspen and bristlecone pine. I want to throw myself into Lit classes, to write papers about words and stories and their meaning. I want time to move differently than it does in Los Angeles.

I register for classes over the phone, pack a few boxes and give notice at my job. And then with a week until classes start and no place to live, I leave the crisp sunny days of Southern California in January, drive hours through the desert, and arrive in the muddy gray of a winter that’s already gone on too long. I have reserved 3 nights in a motel on Main Street, confident I’ll find a furnished room to rent. A room where I can find my way out of the dark. There is no Plan B. And here it is: a room for rent listed on the first flyer on the first bulletin board I come to at the Student Center on campus. I take the flyer down and drive carefully on icy roads to the address.

I knock on the front door of the house. The woman who answers tells me the room for rent is in a 3 bedroom apartment in their basement, and 2 of the rooms already have tenants. She leads me to the driveway lined with snow drifts, down the dark stairs next to the garage, and knocks on the door. A girl about my age lets us in. Inside it’s a cozy, dim, wood paneled basement and the bedrooms have windows right under the ceiling with dirty snow piled against the glass panes outside. The bedroom for rent is in the back, and when the girl opens the door to show me, nobody says a word. It’s musty and dark and could use some paint, but it’s quiet and furnished and that’s all I want.

“I’ll take it,” I say, turning to the owner and the two girls who live there. My new roommates, Viv and Tina. They exchange a glance and smile at me.

The winter progresses and the snow gets higher until the windows are covered with gray and no light can get through the ice. I live underground like a rabbit. I listen to records and read books and drink hot peppermint tea against the cold. Sometimes I stay up late and write stories in a notebook. I sporadically attend classes. I eat a lot of Top Ramen and hardboiled eggs because they are cheap. I crave salt and warmth. Sometimes my roommates make chocolate chip cookies and invite people from church to come over and play Uno. I realize fairly quickly I may have made a mistake in coming back to this town. Everything has slowed down and has now buried me in this underground room with no light. Paralysis has set in. I am homesick for things I can’t put into words.

One night I have trouble going to sleep and am laying in the dark room looking at shadows on the ceiling. I am wondering how to gather the energy I would need to move back home. The thought of packing my car up and driving home feels impossibly difficult. The thought of staying here also seems impossibly difficult. Then the heavy air in the room becomes heavier and the dark gets darker. Over by the closet there’s a ripple in the shadows, and maybe it’s from the tree branches outside through the ice on the windows, but maybe it’s not. I sit up in bed, straining to see into the corner across the room. I realize I am not alone, and go cold.

A girl’s face flashes lightning-quick into my mind, and I see her shaking her head at me, disappointed and a little amused. In an instant, I see myself like she sees me: a girl huddled in bed, drowning in self-pity and circles. I see her face again, like quick frames from a film. She’s shaking her head, a mocking half-smile on her lips. She’s chiding me. She can’t believe the despair I have allowed myself to fall into.

“You have everything,” she says to me, her words flashing in my mind. She’s not sympathetic, or wise, or all knowing. She’s annoyed. This is something you might say to a friend who needs to be told the hard truth. A friend who has taken things too far for too long, and could benefit from a reminder to get up and start living. I have a strong impression of a finger wagging. Enough, she scolds. Enough.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” she says. “You’re alive, so you have everything.”

She’s in front of the closet door facing me, laughing a little, shaking her head, mouth pursed in amusement. I strain to see her in the dark. I feel her looking at me. She’s right there. Is someone there? Curiosity wins out over fear. For a moment I am comfortable, content even, accepting that I may have gently slid sideways and lost my grip on reality. I am surprised that it’s so easy. I reach for the lamp on my nightstand, and before I can switch it on, she’s gone. She’s just gone. I’m still in the dark, but very much alone.

I wrap the covers tight around me and lie back down, holding this flash of a girl in my mind. The impression of her words, her knowing look, her message that is starting to make sense. Or maybe I am losing it. Have already lost it. I think I am kind of okay with that as I drift off to sleep.

The next morning I wake up feeling better than I have in weeks. The snow is almost gone now and I can see light out the windows. Spring must be close. I am lighter and happier than I have been in a long time. Maybe I am crazy, but crazy feels pretty good.

In the afternoon, my roommates and I are in the living room doing homework with the radio on. I’m drinking hot tea. Perhaps we will make cookies later.

“You’re in a good mood today,” says Tina.

“The weirdest thing happened,” I say. “Last night I couldn’t sleep. Then, you know how you can feel that someone is in the room with you? Well, that’s what I felt. Like someone was in my room. I got this image in my head of this girl. She was in my room over by the closet. She was kind of making fun of me for being so depressed.”

They look at each other quickly.

“What,” I say. “You think I’m crazy. I know it sounds weird.”

“No it doesn’t,” Viv says.

“It was like this girl was telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself,” I continue slowly, “that I have no excuse to feel depressed. She said I was alive, so I had everything, that I was lucky. I mean, that makes sense, right?”

They look at each other again, and Tina says to Viv, “Should we tell her?”

My heart starts pounding and I’m filled with apprehension. “Tell me what.”

“Didn’t you ever wonder,” Viv says slowly, “why your room was available when you moved here to start school in the middle of the year? Nobody has lived in that room for a long time. Nobody wanted to.”

“I just thought I got lucky when I found the ad that the room was available,” I say. “But you’re right, it is kind of odd.”

“There was a girl that lived in your room about a year and a half ago,” Viv says, her eyes filling. “She died. She had left to go to her hometown, but never made it. She disappeared. She was missing for a couple of weeks. Then they found her body. She was murdered. It was an awful time, such a nightmare.” She stops and looks at me, wiping her eyes. “This is hard to talk about. You would have liked her.”

Viv is crying now, remembering, telling me how the girl’s dad and brothers showed up. How she helped them pack up boxes, clean the bedroom and load their car up with her things. How she had always kept the door to the bedroom closed, and sometimes she would hear sounds in the room like someone was opening the desk drawer. Sometimes she would find the light on in the closet even though no one had been in there. The older couple who owned the house didn’t try to rent the basement bedroom out for over a year. They’d put the notice up at the Student Center the week before I got into town and came by. There had been no interest until I showed up.

Tina jumps in. “I didn’t live here last year,” she says, “so I didn’t know her. But I knew the story, and poor Viv was trying to deal with everything that happened. Nobody else wanted to live here. So when you showed up to look at the room, we decided not to tell you. You looked so nice we didn’t want to scare you away. I’m sorry.”

Viv wipes her eyes and says with a sad smile, “I hope you don’t want to move out now.”

I am letting it all sink in. Now there is this girl who has died a horrible death. This girl who was my age, who had slept in the same room, under the same iced windows, and in the same bed. This girl who had lost her life, who saw me wasting mine by feeling sorry for myself. This girl who reminded me I had everything, and my whole life was in front of me. Who knows when it will all be over? None of us know. She hadn’t known.

She told me to wake up, to grab life, to make it what I wanted and stop wasting time. Because even the bad times mean you’re alive. And when you’re alive, you do have everything. She was telling me to get up, seize it and hold on tight. Because it is valuable and rich and far, far too short. She told me to start living.

And so I did.




When the Thaw Comes is a true story.  It appears in The Secret and the Sacred, Erin’s collection of short stories, and in an anthology, In Case We Die.  Both are available on Amazon.  Erin works as a commercial designer, and lives in Long Beach, California with her boyfriend and their magnificent cat.

Visit her online at erinkparker.com


Project Oculus: Paranormal Windows

Earlier this week on The Experience, Jeff Ritzmann announced a new experiment that we can all partake in to see if we can’t catalog paranormal activity as it happens in his and other experiencers’ homes. He calls it Project Oculus. You can learn more in the video below and by listening to The Experience. (I have given away this week’s show with Jeff and last week’s solo show in their entirety for free to nonsubscribers. You can stream or download them at the link above.) Those are the most entertaining ways to understand the project, but the most direct and most important is to go to Jeff’s GoFundMe page, look it over, and if it sounds like the much-needed shot in the arm of research I believe it is, fund it.


I know that in recent years (and months and days) a number of phonies in ufology have made a mockery out of GoFundMe campaigns–begging for money as if it’s an earned wage. They give you nothing in return. They just… you know… want your money. That is not what this is. This is a real experiment he is really going to do that will yield real results, whatever those may be. Not the promise of something, the delivery of something. And that something may end up being crickets–but they’ll be honest crickets–and even paranormal radio silence yields us a clue.

So let us put on our paranormal detective hats and go all in. Let’s go fund Project Oculus.

The Untold Limits of Science In “Alien Abduction”

ImageThe sciences are all about repeatability and categorization. This is how scientists come to know the world. But if there is an independent (or interdependent) intelligence behind so-called “alien abductions” and associated phenomena, two things and only two things are clear about it: It doesn’t care what we call it. And defining it has no bearing on our relationship with it. Our wondering at its facade is our own hangup. What unfolds between us is what we share.

No, the enigmatic other doesn’t give a whit if we think it’s an alien, a time traveller, a demon, a fairy, an angel, a ghost, schizophrenia, a dream, alive or dead. It doesn’t care to correct us, and truly, our interactions with this intelligence have nothing to do with categorization. Repeatability is a different question we’ll get into shortly.

In fact, let’s go one step deeper. It does not matter what experiencers name these beings, think we know about them, where they’re from, and all that. The thing that does not matter, then, is our certainty and our uncertainty. If you handle your experiences with certainty that these are alien doctors studying us and I handle mine by saying I don’t know anything, that these beings are a mystery… does it matter to the beings at all? Do we not end up in the same place?

If what we claim to know about them or not know about them doesn’t affect the experiencing of these things at all, then perhaps science as it currently stands cannot give us a proper framework to explore this, for our “objective” and “subjective” stances carry equal weight in the eyes of these beings. Perhaps that’s why they engage equally with one who thinks they’ve got it all figured out, one who believes they know at least something about it, and one who says they don’t know anything. At the end of the day, maybe factual knowledge has little correlation with our personal growth. This is a different kind of school than we’re used to–intellectual education need not apply. Maybe that is because these interactions transcend the rational and so cannot fully be captured by intellect.

Can’t be captured by it but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an anchor point in the rational. Nature unfolds along a “transcend and include” model. Transrationality, then, has a rational component to it. Perhaps repeatability is that component but it is hidden beneath the multitudes of subjective facades, individual and cultural. Perhaps we’re studying the wrong thing, trying to figure out what a ghost is, an alien, a mothman, and so forth. If these are subjective masks on the walls of our personal caves in our personal hero journeys then we need to look elsewhere for the objective thing. Might it be found in the result of the interactions? That is, the result of walking through the cave of masks and coming out the other side?

Who is that person? How does s/he differ from the one who tiptoed in?

When dealing with the seemingly unknowable, theories based on facades always crumble into belief. This is because researchers tend to stick to their theories until proven wrong, which they will not be, by definition. So if you believe, for example, in malevolent space vampires feeding off our negative emotions then any positive outcome for the experiencer will be seen as a trick from the advanced ghouls. But I haven’t known anyone who hasn’t grown more empathetic at least toward Earth and Nature as a result of their experiences be they positive or negative. Be they following the script of “alien doctor”, “space vampire”, “space brother”, friend, foe, or indifferent. How have we ignored this for so long?–That people whose experiences do not logically lead to empathy for Nature do just that? It’s a non sequitur that has been overlooked because it is a clue to an answer that is culturally more uncomfortable than even the dreaded “alien abduction” Hollywood punchline.

It all ends the same. The experiencer ends up caring deeply about the fundamentals of us all. Literally, our roots. The ground itself is sacred ground. People we can take or leave–but plants? Animals? The air? We cared before global warming was cool. But we didn’t care and mostly still do not know how to care as deeply as First Peoples around the world–and perhaps that’s why we have a different relationship with this enigmatic other than do they. We have different needs in terms of growth.

It is taken as a given that if intelligent beings far more ancient than seems possible given the track we’re on discovered us, they’d ignore us, kill us, enslave us, inject their technology into our system to help advance us, or observe us at a distance. The more hopeful among us believe they’d share information with us. That’s all fantasy based on the notion that how we are right now is the pinnacle of what it means to be human. It’s the fallacy of the intellect being the priority of the universe. I submit to you that what we are actually observing is an interaction wherein the importance of intellect is being negated.We are being show that the wholeness of being has an intellectual component, but it transcends this component. Perhaps knowledge, that most sacred grail of science, is only ever a local phenomenon. It is… ironically… subjective to our species and our time.

If the universal constant to sentient life is not a restless intellectual learning by doing and repeating, but a fuller, wordless intelligence and complete satisfaction in being… then if I were such a being I would only be interested in creating equals out of people from wherever who had that same spark. Because being is indivisible. That spark is the light. That light is one light. One light beaming out from behind different masks whether we’ve discovered it or not. And when we do discover it… What happens when we do? What happens when the faces we wear slough off?

What happens when they don’t?