My daughter’s new-found adult autonomy, and a ghost story, of sorts

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grazianoAnd just like that, in a hyperbolic blink, my daughter Paige has finished her first year of college and moved her belongings[1] back into her childhood bedroom.

From Manchester to Boston back to Manch-Vegas for the summer, my daughter is adjusting to life in her parents’ domicile, which for new adults can be more harrowing then it sounds.

For the past eight months, she has been cultivating her autonomy. Not to say that Paige had full-throttle freedom living in a Boston College dorm room[2], but she also didn’t have to answer to Mom and Dad; she didn’t have to tell anyone where she was going or worry about curfews.

However, she also didn’t have her meals prepared[3], her own washer and dryer, or her father buying her whatever the hell she wants. While waiting for her summer job to begin, Paige seems to have adopted a type of monastic existence in her bedroom, brooding and missing her friends.

And I get it. I was the same way when I briefly returned to my parents’ home in Rhode Island after finishing my freshman year at Plymouth State in 1994.

At the time, I took a job delivering pizzas for Papa Gino’s[4] in my hometown, and when not working, I would also sit in my childhood bedroom, brooding.

Then—shortly after the infamous OJ Simpson car chase—I decided that I could no longer stomach brooding at home or living under my parents rules[5], so I gave my two week-notice at Papa Gino’s and left my prestigious job as a pizza delivery boy and returned to Plymouth where I washed dishes at The Waterville Valley Conference Center.

And I moved in with a ghost.

I suppose that last statement begs explanation.

I actually lived in my fraternity house[6] with a handful of guys, but it was well-established that the second floor of the three-story house where I lived was haunted. In fact, the specific room where the ghost resided was directly across the hall from my bedroom.

Screenshot 2022 05 22 11.44.21 PMLet me preface this by saying that before I lived in that house, I was a wholehearted skeptic about all things paranormal. I was Ebenezer Scrooge blaming an apparition on an “undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato.”

Now skeptics might read what I just wrote—noting my residence in a fraternity house—and ask whether marijuana or psychedelic drugs may have factored into my paranormal perceptions.

It’s a fair question.

But there was a preponderance of evidence to prove said ghost’s existence. For example, while the door to the room across the hall from me was padlocked from the outside, the stereo would turn on and off throughout the day.

[It was an old house, and that could’ve been attributed to faulty electrical wiring.]

There were also footsteps and knocking on the walls inside the locked room.

[Lay off the dope, Pookie.]

However, the thing that convinced me that I had a supernatural neighbor was something that couldn’t be quantified. It was a feeling, a sixth sense that I had when using the bathroom, which was adjoined to the room. I always felt as if something (someone?) in the corner of the bathroom was watching me.

While decisively creepy[7], it still beat brooding and the rules of living at my parents’ home. So I completely get where my daughter is coming from right now[8]. It’s part of the infinitely awkward transition between adult autonomy and a reliance on the people who loved and raised you. It’s part of the ineffable passage that we all experience in our own way.

Next semester, Paige will be moving into a dorm on Commonwealth Avenue that was once a morgue.

Good luck with that, kid.


[1] Somehow her accumulation of dorm crap managed to stuff my wife’s Rav-4 like blood-bloated tick.

[2] When I lived in a dorm at Plymouth State, this was a fact that eluded me and resulted in multiple disciplinary hearings with the Residential Director, punishments, and an eventual “invitation” to not return to said dorm for my sophomore year.

[3] I suppose having a meal plan means her meals are prepared for her, but she also has to take the initiative to travel to dining hall, as opposed to walking downstairs and raiding the fridge in our house.

[4] Oddly, it ranks among one of my favorite jobs in a sundry bundle of them. I found that the great thing about delivering pizzas was that people were always excited to see me. To date, I haven’t experienced that again.

[5] In fairness, my parents gave me a lot of space, but it was their space, not mine.

[6] How this dilapidated building side-stepped being condemned by the town zoning board baffles me to this day. NB: It was later condemned and it no longer exists on Webster St. in Plymouth.

[7] This came to its head when my roommates left for Woodstock ‘94 that summer, and I was in the house alone one night. It can neither be confirmed nor denied that stayed up all night with a blanket pulled over my head.

[8] I should add that my son believes the attic in our house is haunted, but he’s a 17-year-old boy so anything he says is automatically dubious.

About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: