A Salem-ite’s Perspective
As a resident of Salem, it’s common this time of year to walk down to the local coffee house on Front Street and hear people complaining about the tourist season. Typical gripes go back and forth about the tourists walking by and the increased traffic on the streets. I was pointing this out to a friend of mine who, like most of my friends, lived in Salem for several years, left to live elsewhere, and eventually came back.
It’s a strange culture we locals have—often complaining about something we obviously love. We certainly do love this town. Why else would so many of us move back to Salem, often several times throughout our lives? There are many towns around this area, and I’ve known many people who have headed off for warmer and cheaper places to live, but the ones from Salem, especially the downtown groaners, always seem to miss their beloved „witch“ city and, inevitably, they return.
What is it about Salem that draws people back, sometimes decades after having lived elsewhere? I’ve often discussed the „energy“ of Salem with my friends, shop owners, and the frequent mystics of the area. You’d expect this topic to be brought up regularly in a city where the police have a flying witch stitched to their shoulders. I often hear phrases like „the veil between the living world and the spirit realm is thinner here,“ or „there is a psychic residue from all that’s happened in the area.“
I’ve never been a person to freely admit feeling a definitive „psychic residue,“ but I must admit that when you’re walking through Salem with friends, or by yourself, it’s often hard to deny a sort of presence in the air, an ethereal haze that makes your mind a bit dreamy or, at the very least, something just a tiny bit different.
I have personally walked down Essex street (the main cobblestone and brick road), oh, maybe four hundred times, give or take a hundred, and I can honestly say I’ve never once tired of it. There is always something to do and love, like listening to the street minstrels sing folk songs for spare change, or walking through the exotic perfumery shop, where they can actually make an oil replicating the exact scent of a campfire, or drinking warm cider on a walking ghost tour.
I’ve yet to lose interest in strolling through the 17th century grave yards or viewing the beauty of the Essex Museum, adorned with antiques and replicas of cultures from ancient China to colonial New England’s boating industry.
There’s something to say about a town where people who read the tarot for a living frequent the same pubs as college kids, punk rock musicians and Irish Catholic fishermen.
Above all else, one must come to Salem for Halloween. However, don’t make the mistake of showing up at midnight. It’s still family outing time more than anything, six to eleven being the optimal part of the evening. That’s not to say you won’t see some interesting interactions between hoards of gun-slinging fairies and glam-rock vampires, though.
Many professional and amateur performers will be out and about for the entertainment of all who come to walk the cobblestone streets of the Petite Mardi Gras. If you’re anywhere near the area, make a night of it. If you’re far away, take a three day weekend. Be sure to dress warm and bring a costume if you can. It makes the evening livelier.
I’ll not likely grow weary of this place anytime soon, yet, if I do, I’ll probably still come back. Again and again. It’s a strange and beautiful little city, and it’s certainly worth the trip.
(The Epoch Times)