A Conversation I will have the rest of my life:
A Person: What’s your name?
A Person: Birdy?
Me: No, Bridey.
A Person: Brighty?
Me: No, like Bride with a y at the end.
A Person: Oh.
In 1952, businessman, and amateur hypnotist, Morey Bernstein, hypnotized a housewife from Colorado named Virginia Tighe. While under hypnosis, Virginia seemed to travel back into a past life. She began talking in an Irish brogue in great detail about her life in Cork, Ireland. She called herself “Bridey Murphy” and spoke of her life as the daughter of a protestant Barrister, Duncan Murphy and of a small wooden house, called The Meadows where she lived. She described moving to Belfast, the Antrim coastline, her Church, and her marriage to Sean, pronounced “See-an”. Virginia did traditional Irish jigs, sang Irish songs, and recited Irish fairytales. Finally, she told of the nasty spill that brought Bridey’s death and recalled watching her funeral from the beyond, seeing it, but not feeling anything.
After the book, The Search for Bridey Murphy, was published a lot of reporters and investigators descended upon Ireland looking for proof that Virginia’s claims were real. No records were found of a “Bridey Murphy” (1798-1864), nor for her family, or the house she described. However, Virginia did mention a grocer named “Farr”, a clerk who was fact checked to be working in Belfast at the time. Her descriptions of the Antrim coast were meticulously accurate and there was a St. Teresa’s Church, yet it had been built in 1911. Researchers found out that Virginia Tighe had lived across the street from a “Bridie Murphey Corkell” during her childhood. Her story from then on was chalked up to be one of suppressed childhood memories paired with imagination, rather than one of reincarnation.
When we die, the memories in our brain will be destroyed. Alzheimer’s and brain traumas illustrate what happens when the neural connections are ruined. Skeptics maintain that there is no mind or spirit that has these memories infinitely encoded somewhere. But I don’t! I don’t at all! I believe Virginia’s story is a mix of a past life and memories of her own. When the soul of Bridey Murphy could not recall specific names and details, her brain quipped back with data, some academic and some from Virginia’s childhood. What is real to me is that her spirit possessed her, whether that spirit remembers her life specifically or not is by chance and extremely presumptuous.
I’d really like not to believe in reincarnation, either because frankly, it freaks me out. I like the idea of having my one family, my one soul mate (IF THEY EVER FUCKING DECIDE TO SHOW UP, YOU PUSSY!), my childhood cat, Alfie, being able to recite the movie Big verbatim, I shat in a fitting room once, and I can stand on my head. I like believing this is who I am and who I always will be, but I don’t know. I doubt it is.
I’ve always been described as an “old soul” (that sounds really self-stroking and like I’m a cheesy person trying to brag, but it’s fact) and until recently I didn’t know what that exactly meant. I knew basically it meant I was mature for my age (I blame THAT on a certain game of “Doctor” in middle school! Wink! Wink!) But I heard this psychic talk about how it literally meant “old soul”; it means you’ve lived more lives than other people and then part of me almost panicked because it resonated with me. I remember seeing the movie “Audrey Rose” when I was nine or ten, about a girl named Ivy who around her 13 birthday keeps having these crazy nightmares, that result in her calling out for “Daddy!” and getting actual burns on her hands. Anthony Hopkins plays this bereaved father who is convinced that his dead daughter, Audrey Rose, who died in a car wreck, is reincarnated in this girl, Ivy. I love both those names. Anyways, the movie is really great, has awesome shots of 70’s Upper West Side, and successfully freaked me out more than the Exorcist ever did and that’s because it felt like a reality I needed to accept as opposed to a horror movie. You may be saying to yourself “Well, what the fuck would you prefer, Bridey? Do you want to die and just be dead? Do you want to die believing there’s a magical land called “Heaven” with doggies and boobs everywhere? Or do you want to believe that energy never dies and we’re souls just passing through bodies!” I don’t really know, but I want to believe in something. My name feels fatefully appropriate.
I was closest to my drama teacher in high school. Since I went to a unique private school, she was also my Cinema Study, AP English, Scene Study, and Playwriting teacher. Without a doubt, one of the wisest, funniest ladies I’ll ever know. I was going through a dip of starving myself/ not sleeping/ thinking I had cancer constantly and I could talk to her about it. I tried to anyway. At the time, I probably sounded like this “Everything sucks…. I’m a loner, Dottie, a rebel” One thing she told me that I remind myself when my mind is in the dumpster is this: “People underestimate how hard it is to function.” It’s not the most uplifting thing in hindsight, but at the time it was very alleviating to hear and still offers me comfort. Functioning is hard, no matter what, but we’re all doing it. Some days maybe we choose not to, but we all need to in order to be happy because that’s the goddamn point of everything!
Then I was thinking back to fifth grade when we were studying Beowulf, and there was that stupid topic of “Was Beowulf a hero?” and then the question that seemed to come up in every English class I ever took- “What makes a hero?” I always hated this question, because it would get my fellow students debating into a merry go round of dead ends and I just wanted everyone to shut up so I could go home and watch reruns of Smart Guy (Tia and Tamera Mowry’s brother starred in it). On this particular day, I remember the class ending with my teacher saying we were all heroes because we all got up in the morning to the unknown, which at the time in my head I was like “That’s not true! I get up and have to go to school and I HATE IT!!” but now having been alive ten more years, I think the old bag actually knew her shit. I’m not saying I feel like a hero, I’m just thinking about how facing the day is a courageous thing to do especially if your day winds up slapping you across the face with a raw steak. You know what I mean? I don’t know. Maybe I should get a hamster. Eh, scratch that, I hate hamsters or I guess what I’m asking myself is to focus on each day as opposed to the “FINAL RESULT” of whatever I pursue. I need to allow myself a process, WHICH IS WHY I’M BUYING A GODDAMN HAMSTER!!!