Getting ready to go back to college. (We are starting the final series, ending with the automobile accident that left me with the chronic disease fibromyalgia.) I had been to college for a year back in 1986, but I was unsure what I wanted to major in. So I took some time off to work. After four years of working in clinical settings, I knew my best bet was to major in social work, and minor in criminal justice. I was living in an area called “Uptown” in Minneapolis. A very artsy/eclectic community at the time. I lived in a brownstone with my sister. I loved that apartment. It was hard leaving it.
In 1991, I packed up my car and headed to the St. Cloud State University in St.Cloud, Minnesota. I had rented an off-campus apartment in a basic eight-plex of square boxes. Boring but the price was right. On the day I drove the 60 miles to the college it was 102 degrees. I kept thinking my car tires would melt! 100 degree days are infrequent in Minnesota!
I settled in and went job hunting. And hunt I did! This was a college town, but luckily I started the search that summer before the other students arrived. I got it down to two offers; a nursing home facility aid or an overnight counselor for teens in treatment. What did I choose??? Teens in treatment! I thought, well, they’ll be sleeping anyway. What harm would be in that? (This would be nothing like my psychiatric technician shifts) I received my job description; a cleaning list and some basic bookkeeping responsibilities then I would make breakfast in the morning. Easy Peasey. (If only.)
I made it through the summer just fine, working while registering for fall classes, we used to have to stand in line to register. (Yes, I am aging myself!) We had to stand in line for everything! Signing up for classes, paying bills, buying textbooks, it was a practice in patience.
So I began working at a very well known children’s home in St. Cloud. This used to be an orphanage during WWII. It was the weirdest building I had ever worked in. It had a substantial inner structure of offices, central kitchen, and classrooms, like a school. And a vast basement, locked rooms, and a gym but it was really a bomb shelter. Around that inner structure was one huge circular hallway and the ‘cottages,’ where the children lived, were attached to the exterior of this round hallway. You never had to go outside, except for church. The grounds were so beautiful, hauntingly beautiful.
I heard my fair share of ghost stories, people seeing children in period clothing, nuns and priests walking through the interior building towards the church outside. There was the ‘burning room’ in the basement. It was basically a timeout room that is never used anymore but was in the past. A child had started a mattress on fire when he was made to sleep in one of the locked rooms and died … it still smelled like sulfur. Whatever... I already knew! I could sense stuff. There were a few oddities, but I never felt threatened until one night, the little boy on the tricycle came to visit.
(To be continued.)