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I couldn’t sleep in the haunted hotel, with the bathroom mirror as my view from the bed, and the lone wicker chair purposelessly stationed under the television near the window. All of it felt out of rhythm, but so did I, which is why I decided to stay in a place with a storied history when I passed through Flagstaff.

Some online reviews talked about old movie stars who may have stayed in their room once. Some talked about how chairs moved in the night unprovoked. Some people just needed a decent bed to sleep on and liked the decor. I needed something to set me up emotionally for the trip East to see my father. I was going to see someone gradually fade away, his body change from inactivity, his skin and muscle and virility melt into the hospice bed, and I didn’t know what it would feel like, so I decided to stay in a haunted hotel, half-hoping something might unsettle me and  jumpstart the process. I could imagine it, and understand what happens to a dying body on a physical level, but I just didn’t know what it would feel like. I wanted to, but I just couldn’t.

No one can. 

I embraced the restlessness, and focussed on what I might say or do if I did see a ghost.

Then I tried to sleep with the lights on.