Your first year of college is supposed to be a coming of age story. Meet new people. Make new friends. Learn things that change your perspective on the world. Drink. Study. Fuck. Not me.
I spent the majority of my first year of college lying in bed in my dead grandmother’s house sleeping, eating horrible food, beating off to Internet porn, and skipping class while a black cloud of fear, anxiety and growing social anxiety seeped into my being like fog off a dark bay.
The first mistake I made was following my father’s advice of moving into my freshly-deceased grandmother’s house instead of the freshman dorms to save money. My parents agreed to pay the astronomical out of state tuition, the least I could do was accommodate by living in my grandma’s dusty old house which still smelled like her nine months after her passing.
I had a lot of reasons not to complain. My grandma’s house was fairly large, within walking distance of the school and the beach. Had I not been petrified of the place my entire life, it could have been a dream come true.
I spent most Christmas breaks of my formative years at my grandma’s house in Santa Cruz, but no matter how times I stayed there, I never shook an unnerving fear of the place. One of those typical grandparent houses that hadn’t changed a lick since the 50s, the place was just a completely alien environment for a little kid raised in a brand new house. It was one of those old homes that seemed to have a personality itself. Every step made a sound. It had its own scent. The lighting was dim. The artwork dated and eerie – filled with portraits of long-dead relatives. I never seemed to be able to sleep all the way through the night there.
Plus, my grandpa was a simply frightening dude who I never had a single real conversation with in the 15 years we shared on this planet. All I knew about him was he was well-decorated in the Pacific theater in World War II, he worked the night shift at some kind of factory, he slept (a lot), he liked McCormick whiskey (a lot) and I found out down the road he wasn’t my biological grandpa.
The most-terrifying moment of my life occurred when I was nine. I was watching late-night TV in the living room because I couldn’t sleep and he snuck up behind me. I can still picture him walking into the doorway of the living room stark naked – hairy with a pale blue skin tone. He didn’t say a word, just walked up next to me and shut the TV off.
But back to what I was talking about…