After that first year of living in New York City, you begin to realize the importance of quietly escaping our buzzing epicenter of a town every few months—the absence will keep you sane.
I have a group of friends scattered throughout NYC who vacation together 2-3 times a year. We call these little trips "The Classic," which can be shortened for social media purposes to #Classic, but should typically remain a proper noun.
The Classic entails a lengthy (and at times, aggressive) email chain. Schedules are discussed, budgets are outlined, projects are assigned, and many gifs are used to express bursts of digital emotion. After renting a car—or occasionally doing it youth group style with a 15 passenger van—and finding a house on Airbnb, we embark on our grand adventure.
But last month’s Classic to a Catskills farmhouse was truly something special.
“So, a woman is staying here, too…while we’re here. And she’s, uh, well… she’s interesting,” a friend said with sincere confusion upon my car’s arrival. As if on cue, a plump lady with frizzy white hair sticking out of a knit cap entered the room and shuffled by.
That was Pat.
And Pat owned this property.
The downstairs of the farmhouse was strangely chopped up, with random beds and bathrooms haphazardly sprinkled throughout. The only source of warmth was a wood stove in the living room, and since it was 12 degrees outside, this “rustic” feature wasn’t exactly a selling point. The upstairs consisted of a long, creepy hallway with mirrors and rooms.
And all of these rooms had doors.
And all of these doors locked from the outside.
Weekend Rule #1: Never leave the group for more than 10 minutes at a time.
“Did someone say they needed garlic salt?” We were now in the kitchen prepping the traditional Classic chili. Omniscient Pat popped out of nowhere, wide-eyed and questioning. I noticeably jumped, eyeing the knives that hung on the wall beside her.
Weekend Rule #2: ALWAYS announce yourself when coming into a room.
After a whiskey or two, the group relaxed and decided to head outside for a late-night bonfire. But we found something quite particular toward the side of the house: A pentagram, or five-point star popular with Satanists and cults, had been tiled into an old concrete patio. A fire pit sat in the middle of the eerie symbol.
Weekend Rule #3: If you think you are about to be sacrificed, please alert a member of the group.
As I walked into the kitchen for a chili refill, a friend and I noticed several magnets advertising a website about forgiveness on the refrigerator. We eyed each other and began nervously laughing—of course the cult leader was a fan of being pardoned.
But the internet led us to some fascinating discoveries. First, our host was in fact a “healer,” known for her ability to speak to other dimensions. And apparently, our weekend farmhouse also doubled as a “retreat center” for people seeking forgiveness, with the help of Archangel Michael and the Circle of something somethings…
“How’s the fire going?” I stumbled backwards, as Pat shuffled into the kitchen. I closed her blog on my phone, and produced a weak grin. “Fine!” I squeaked.
She looked at me.
I looked at her.
“There’s an axe in the corner of the den, if you need it.”
Someone was definitely going to die tonight.
(This is the point in a scary movie when you start screaming at the television, “No! Don’t go in there. TURN AROUND!”)
But Pat shuffled away, and didn’t reappear for the rest of the evening.
The sun rose the next morning.
Our house slowly stirred to life.
The coffee began to brew...
And no bodies were found.
Pat popped into the kitchen that second day. I found her much less terrifying in the early-afternoon light, munching on a blueberry pancake. In fact, she said our group was like the “family she’d never had.”
<Insert questionably sinister grin?>
So, I suppose it all worked out just fine...
The moral of the story:
New York City is much safer than Upstate New York.