Refried Flashback Friday: I Want to Believe, originally published November 15, 2008. Consider yourself lucky to get this all in one post. If I were writing this today I would stretch it out into three.
You know how sometimes when you're a kid, grownups don't take you seriously? You tell them something strange or amazing that happened and they pat you condescendingly on the head and say, "sweetie, that's not possible. I'm sure you just imagined it." Well, what if it really did happen? And what if you had proof, because your little sister was there with you and she saw/heard/experienced it, too?!? Today I bring you three stories from my personal Twilight Zone file - strange and unsettling incidents that were dismissed by my parents but witnessed or also experienced by my little sister. To this day, one of them defies explanation, but who am I to question a corroborated fact?
We'll start out with the relatively mundane. In the summer of 1994, when I was 12, my family visited Utah for pretty much the first time since having five kids. (This blows a giant hole in the oft-repeated myth that all Mormons go there on pilgrimage every summer.) We stayed in my great aunt and uncle's house in Utah Valley, a huge, three-story, gorgeous house with lots of bedrooms.
My little sister and I got a corner bedroom on the third floor that had a canopy bed to sleep in and a giant, hand-made dollhouse to play with. We were practically in heaven. I have two older brothers, so girl toys and pretty girl clothes were in short supply for most of my growing-up years. Or if I did happen to have a Barbie, she was defaced with glasses and a mustache in no time by my Bic-wielding brothers.
We girls settled in to sleep that first night but were woken up in the middle of the night by a terrible thunderstorm. Out of the box window on the third floor, we had a clear view of it coming over the mountains. The lightning was frequent and frightening, the thunder was terrifying and loud, and the rain was pouring down. I remember that one of the windows was open and Teresa (my sister) and I debated for a long time about who should be the one to go close it, we were both so scared. Eventually, I think I closed it, and we managed to get back to sleep.
In the morning, we asked our parents if the storm woke them up, too. To which they replied, "What storm? There was no storm last night. You girls were just dreaming." No matter how hard we tried, they just wouldn't believe that the house had almost been decimated in a thunderstorm the night before.
The next Twilight Zone moment comes from our trip to Alaska, which I told you a little about last week. We had driven all day in the RV and pulled off to a small, deserted camping area for the night to get some sleep. All through our trip, we had seen signs warning of wildlife being in the area (well, duh, this is Alaska we're talking about) and to watch out for moose, bears, etc. So in the middle of the night, when Teresa and I woke up to hear something heavy scratching and scraping against our window, we immediately realized it must be a wild moose bent on destruction of human life. We crept out of our "bedroom" at the back of the RV and told our parents. They told us to go back to sleep. So much for that idea.
I think we spent the rest of the night on the floor in the main part of the RV, too scared to sleep since the moose was hitting its antlers against the window so hard that it was actually shaking the RV. When morning finally came, Teresa and I looked outside and I swear to you, there were no branches or anything else that could have been making those noises on our window. And yet our parents remained completely incredulous of our near-death encounter with a crazed moose.
This last story is the most bizarre. I still don't have anything even approaching a logical explanation for it. But Teresa and I have the same memory, so the experience stands.
We were on some family road trip, the kind where we drove all night to get where we were going (usually California) with my mom and dad taking turns at the wheel. We kids just fell asleep in our seats, sometimes lucky enough to stretch out over an adjacent empty seat, sometimes not. Every once in a while, we'd stop for gas and maybe a bathroom break.
In the wee hours of the morning, we pulled into a gas station for one of these breaks. When I opened my eyes, I was struck by how light and clean and...futuristic this gas station was. There was row after row of gas pumps surrounded by pristine swathes of smooth concrete. The lights were preternaturally bright and illuminated everything so completely. It was easy to see the decor of the gas station, which was inexplicably bizarre. The building and pumps were not covered in any gas station logo I was familiar with, but in neon green italicized question marks, like the Riddler from Batman would use. It was all like something out of the future.
None of us got out to use the bathroom, but I remember that Teresa was awake, too. Soon, my parents resumed driving and we were still driving when morning came. When it was light, Teresa and I talked about that amazing gas station and then asked our mom and dad about it. They said something like - you guessed it - "What gas station? We didn't stop at a gas station last night! You must have just dreamed it."
Right, mom and dad. We dreamed up a gas station covered in green Riddler question marks. Teresa and I both. The same dream.
I don't know what they were trying to cover up, but obviously, it hasn't worked.