It’s Halloween, folks! Do you believe in the supernatural? … Cassie does

CassieHappy Halloween to all of you tricker treatin’ freaks out there, or what it actually is: Gay Christmas. The gays totally own Halloween. Straight folks dress up on Halloween but the gays turn October into a reason to dress up, drink and party all month long. Where else but in the Gayborhood can you have a Zombie Walk one weekend, then the Halloween Block Party the next and then finally, Halloween. A bitch can go broke trying to dress up that much. I guess now y’all know what it’s like to be a drag queen — it’s Halloween for us all year long.

I was recently asked if I believe in ghosts, and the short answer is “yes.” There was one night years ago when my dogs started to bark ferociously at something in the doorway of the kitchen. That freaked my shit. All I could think was, what the hell are they seeing that I am not. In situations like that, my memory is suddenly incredible. I remember every scene in every horror movie ever. Every time I had ever thought, “Girl, don’t go in there!” or “Bitch, get out that damn house!” ran through my mind with perfect clarity. I know they probably only heard a squirrel in the attic or something logical like that, but they might also see a portal to Hell opening up and a demon about to get me, or the bloody ghost of someone that died in our house years ago. I don’t know if we live on top of an ancient Indian burial ground — could be!

I do believe in spirits and some communication with the dead. I don’t mean I have ever had any John Edwards or Theresa Caputo experiences, but I do believe my Grandma Christine still talks to me even though she died when I was in sixth grade. Allow me to explain so you don’t think I am crazy … well, crazier.

When I was a little kid, my Grandma Christine Love, my dad’s mom, was the coolest, best person I knew. She was artistic and funny. She was a great cook and made me feel more loved than anyone ever did until my husband Jamie. She radiated positivity yet could cuss like a sailor. She had an authoritative charm about her that I will never forget. What Grandma said was the law of the land, period! She was protective and nurturing and always made me feel safe. She had a very distinct smell. Not an old lady smell, but a great smell of lilacs and gladiolus with a hint of bacon. Every time I hugged her, I would just breathe her scent in.

My sister and I would spend a lot of time at Grandma’s house in Mineola, Texas, during the summer and Christmas breaks from school.
Every morning when we would get up, she would rip off a huge piece of butcher’s paper that she had in the kitchen and tell me to draw her something while she would make breakfast. I would happily oblige while she would make homemade biscuits and gravy. Oh my Lawd, the best gravy I have ever had, made from the bacon grease she kept in a coffee can on the stove. Now, days that seems kind of weird, but back then I think everybody had a coffee can full of bacon grease that you would use to fry things in. There is nothing better than fried taters in bacon fat. Did I mention we were kinda country?

She always encouraged me to be artistic. I was never what you would call outdoorsy and my Grandma was OK with that. If I said it was too hot to go outside, she would say, no problem let’s paint something. She would literally turn trash into treasure. My Pawpaw was a trash collector for the town of Mineola, and he would bring home all kinds of trash that my Grandma would paint and refurbish. She would decoupage or paint just about anything and make it fabulous.

Her house was full of curio cabinets in which she would display all of our artwork. She had pictures of me everywhere. She would always tell me I was her favorite of all the grandkids and I would smile and think, she probably says that to all of the grandkids. Apparently not, my cousin Christy years later would tell me, “You were her favorite and everyone knew it.” I just think she knew I was going to be gay and things were going to be hard for me.

When you are a kid, adults don’t tell you everything. Like I had no idea that my Grandma had gotten sick right after Christmas when I was 11.
When I left her house on Christmas Eve morning (you know — divorced parents so we had to split Christmas), I was so wrapped up in my new boom box stereo and my toys that I didn’t say my little prayer to keep Grandma OK until I saw her again. I always said my protection prayer when I would leave her house and the one time I didn’t — because I was so fixated on material crap – she got sick and died. I know it’s stupid, but I still carry a little bit of guilt for that.

I knew the moment she died. I was sitting in math class bored. It was a beautiful day and the teacher had the windows open. As I sat there daydreaming about being anywhere else but there, a breeze blew in and I swear on my life that I could smell my Grandma. Her smell filled my nose, head and heart and I knew she had passed away.

When I got home that day, my mom said for my sister and me to sit down, she had something to tell us. I said, “It’s Grandma isn’t it? She’s dead isn’t she?” My mom just nodded and hugged us both. She asked me how I knew, and I said, “I just knew.”

That night I dreamed that she held me while I cried. That day I feel she visited me twice, once on the breeze and once in my dream.

Since then I feel like I have spoken to her in dreams quite a few times.

Once when I was a teenager struggling with being able to accept myself as gay. I dreamed that we were sitting at her kitchen table and she told me it was going to be OK. I woke up feeling like it would be OK. That dream gave me a more positive outlook on life. As a teen, I thought of suicide a lot. I feared my family would exile me and not love me once they found out I was gay, but after talking to my Grandma in that dream, all suicidal thoughts were wiped from my mind.

I dreamed of her again when I was trying to decide if doing drag was really what I wanted to do with my life. Sitting at her kitchen table she told me to embrace my artistic side and do it if it makes you happy. After that dream, I embraced my drag career whole heartedly and never looked back.

Every time I am going through something, and I need her advice, I dream about my Grandma. I know in my heart that that is really her talking to me. If that makes me crazy, so be it, I will be crazy. By the way, Grandma loves my column!

I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween. Beware the tricks with treats or else you might be itching in the morning!

Remember to love more, bitch less and be fabulous. XOXO, Cassie Nova.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 30, 2015.