Ghost Stories Grow Up

I am not brave. I don’t find entertainment in being scared and there is nothing that even mildly turns me on about being in a state of anguish. When it comes to wondering about my safety, there is no possibly favorable outcome, at least for me. Furthermore, nothing amuses me about danger; no adrenaline rush cruises through my veins. From the time I was a wee little wimp, I avoided situations that would make my skin crawl. It’s almost embarrassing to admit that I waited until I was 14 years old to go into the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland strictly because I was scared of what terrors that wicked cartoon mouse could have in store for me.
I blame my first encounter with scary stories on the Halloween when I was in third grade. I believe my Sleeping Beauty costume had placed second in the costume contest and I was content with the world, happily dangling my glittery slippers from a stool, when my teacher shut off the lights in the classroom. She proceeded to hold a flashlight under her chin and began telling stories. Short stories, not especially terrifying in retrospect, but with each little tale of fear and agony, my innocent eyes grew wider and wider. All of a sudden my tiara and my pink puffy sleeves were not enough to keep me happy and safe in a world that had rapidly gone from rosy with childhood promise to dark with impending doom.
My first encounter with the Huntington Botanical Gardens was the direct opposite of my first encounter with scary stories. My parents adored dressing me up in sundresses and taking me to the gardens on sunny days. They would sit with family members and I would run around the grounds with my cousins. Huntington Botanical Gardens is a beautiful place, a refuge of old-world idealism encased in tall Gothic walls in a residential part of San Marino, Calif.
The Huntington Botanical Gardens is a 207-acre preserve that was donated by the late Henry Huntington, the co-owner of the Central Pacific Railroad who owned the estate upon his death in 1927. This pocket of paradise is encased completely in suburbia, hiding a 120-acre collection of gardens with various themes behind the property’s art museums, historical libraries and various floral conservatories. It’s the kind of place that Ladies-Who-Wear-Large-Hats frequent, or a hoity-toity refuge of elegance; however, it can also be relaxing to visit if the topography of suburban California gets to be too much. It always feels like a safe, happy place. In fact, it has been my ‘happy place’ since I was a kid running around its grounds. When life gets tough and stresses get overwhelming and the world gets just too scary, I close my eyes and imagine that I’m there.
So when the option presented itself to juxtapose that which scares me the most