It’s an October evening in Southwest Harbor, Maine, and it’s surprisingly warm. We’re staying in a cottage on the grounds of the historic Claremont Hotel that closed for the season three days earlier. Only seven of us guests, scattered throughout a handful of houses, remain at the spacious facility, which opened in 1884. I step onto the path that leads to our rental car.

I pause to take in my surroundings. Silence, except for the lapping of waves against the shoreline. I passed up Ken’s offer to get my carry-on luggage from the car. After all, it wasn’t that far of a walk, even though I have to pass through a copse of trees and the trail is unlit.

Heavy clouds float in front of the almost full moon, shrouding the landscape in darkness. I detect the faintest glow where the moon hides. The grove in front of me blackens. I’m all alone.

Curious, the sky resembles every 1950s horror movie I watched as a child, when I dared myself not to get scared, but failed every time, ending up cowering with bed covers over my head.

Now well into middle-age, I can see that my younger self—the one who was told she had a great imagination—didn’t know how to deal with the ethereal beings (that weren’t supposed to exist) she saw or felt. The younger me watched cheesy movies to convince myself that ghosts didn’t exist, that the adults were right. But deep down I knew the truth. And it terrified me.

Even ten years ago, this eerie night would’ve sent me scurrying back to our room, my heart pounding with irrational anxiety.

Since then, though, I acknowledged the existence of the spirit world, relinquished my fears and learned how to protect my space from other energies. I accept my spiritual gifts as a part of who I am. This confidence bolsters me and helps me discard unrealistic trepidation.

A thrill fills me as I stand in the total darkness. I welcome the spookiness. Revel in feeling alive and unafraid. An old cemetery skirts the grounds of the hotel. I consider strolling among the tombstones. But not tonight—not because I’m frightened—but because I need to get my bag and return to our room.

I visited the cemetery the following night.

I visited the cemetery the following night.

My eyes adjusting, I step into the small grove of deciduous trees, their leaves lightly sprinkling the ground or landing on my shoulders. I am free. And happy.