There was a time in my life where I didn’t listen to the Universe or my gut. I’ve always gotten ~feelings~ but I’ve had people (who are no longer in my life) constantly belittle them. I was always accused of “being scared” or “being judgey”. It got to the point where I stopped trusting myself and it took a lot of time and work to start trusting what I was feeling again. This is definitely one of the times I wasn’t paying attention and I’m thankful that I definitely have family members on the other side who watch out for my dumb ass.
It was Spring 2010 when I found out about an abandoned mansion in Capitola, California. I was super familiar with Capitola because in 2006/07 I dated a guy (named James lol) who lived in Capitola. I went there at least twice a month to see him during our 3 month relationship. It turns out that there’s an abandoned mansion that was literally behind his grandmothers’ house. No seriously. When I typed in the address to this abandoned mansion, we had to drive past his grandmothers’ house and I was furious that he didn’t know that this is obviously something you should have notified me about while we were together. Who dates me and doesn’t think they should tell me about an abandoned and probably haunted mansion right behind their grandmothers’ house??! I digress. This story isn’t about another James.
I was in the last semester of my film photography class and yearned to find cool places to shoot (photos of) my friends at. Michelle was always game for a photo shoot and agreed to tag along for this one. It was an overcast day that kept lightly sprinkling throughout the drive down. Capitola is about an hour and a half from San Leandro, where both Michelle and I lived at the time. Our plan was to do our shoot and then get a late lunch down at the pier. For those who have never been to Capitola, it’s a very cute beach town that’s worth your time. I actually should do a trip down there again soon. Anyway, we found the mansion and were immediately dismayed by the fact that there was a very tall, chain link fence around the entire place. We spent some time walking the perimeter as much as we could. We couldn’t walk the entire perimeter because the mansion backed up to a river and was down a pretty steep hill. After a solid 30 minutes of walking around as much of we could, Michelle and I almost gave up… Then suddenly, we saw a bench pushed up to the fence and a hole in the fence. In this particular section, there were 2 fences. The one that had the hole in it, then about 5 feet of concrete, and a second fence that was much shorter. We examined our options and figured that we could jump through the hole and hop over the shorter fence. Then we’d be in the property of the mansion. I remember looking Michelle in the eye and both of us saying, “fuck it, let’s do it”. As soon as the words left our mouths, it started absolutely pouring rain. It wasn’t sprinkling or adorable little misty droplets of rain. It was buckets of rain being dumped on us at an insane speed. There was a fleeting look in Michelle’s eye (and I’m sure mine too) where she definitely looked like she knew this was a bad idea but when you’re in your early 20s, there’s no such thing as a bad idea. The fence should have been sign number one that we weren’t welcome on this property. Sign number two was the buckets of rain. Due to Michelle being my model for the photos, I had a backpack that contained one digital camera (a canon rebel), one film camera, and two cell phones. In other words, breakable things. Michelle went through the hole first, no problemo. My clumsy ass was up next. Remember when I mentioned that the mansion was on a hill that ran into a river? Yeah. There was a small bit of concrete that Michelle was able to graceful land on from her catlike jump. Me? I completely missed the concrete. I fell on my back and started sliding, feet first down the hill, toward the river. I had a quick second to register a slim pipe sticking out of the middle of the ground right before a 3 foot drop down onto more of a hill. I immediately thought, “At best, I’m going to the hospital. At worst, this pipe is going to impale and kill me.” I’m pretty sure Michelle thought the exact same thing. Within that time, where I’m still sliding on my back and unable to stop myself, my upper body slid to the side so I was going at a diagonal towards this pipe. When I hit the pipe, instead of impaling me, it slid inside the belt loop of my jeans and I was dangling on the 3ft drop. Holy. Shit. Michelle quickly (and again, gracefully) slid down the hill to untangle the pipe from my jeans. She was frantic since she honestly thought she was going to have to call 911. We got ourselves up the hill and hopped back through the hole. There was no way we were going into that mansion anymore. Third sign is the charm, am I right? Once we were through the hole, the rain stopped. Literally just stopped. It didn’t taper off. It just stopped. Cool. I get it. We’re out of here. We got in the car and left immediately. We found a restaurant to get food at, where we slowly went over what happened, in a panic. I checked my backpack, certain that I broke at least one electronic… not a single thing had broken. I literally fell on my back and slid down a muddy hill and not a single camera or phone was broken. After checking everything in my backpack, I complained to Michelle that my back was stinging. She lifted my shirt to see a long scratch down my lower back. The pipe had scratched me while getting wrapped around my belt loop. The fact that all of that happened and all I walked away with was a small scratch on my back still blows my mind. I remember telling my mom about what happened when I got home. She immediately smiled and told me to thank my Papou (Grandfather) for looking out for me.
I don’t know if that place is haunted or what happened that day, but I do believe that my Papou was looking out for me and that something really didn’t want us in that place.