Poetry Hour: Fragile Floors

Fragile Floors Courtney DercquMommy’s dead

because she fell asleep on fragile floors

in between the glossy doors

that dad put up just for her.

At 6:21 in the morning,

mom is dead,

she’s been gone for hours.

While I sat on my living room floor sipping coffee

unaware that dad was already in a state of mourning.

He watched her die.

And I snapped a selfie of my Seattle’s Best.

Poetry Hour: The Space Between

If I could impress upon you anything,

with sincerity or not,

it’d be my wish for you to touch me in my sweetest place

The Space Between Courtney Dercqu 2Oh, how I hope you don’t resist!

It’s the space between my breasts

the space that’s hard and filled with bone

the space between where my heart is its own.

Oh, I wish you were capable of feeling!

The anguish that lives in the space between.

The ample spot that’s full of flesh and bone and muscle

the very birthplace of my weakness

and the fear that lives within.


 

Reinventing Myself Through Abstract Art

I’ve come to the realization that when it comes to my artistic endeavors, drawing is one that doesn’t top the list. In fact, the best thing I’ve ever drawn was a teddy bear my father helped me curate during my sophomore year of college that ultimately garnished me a C for effort.

I’ve written blogs on how painting has helped me to cope with my mother’s death, but the more I paint, the more I’ve been discovering my artistic style. As it turns out, I’m an abstract expressionist. Who knew?

A Different Kind of Outlet

Painting is a much different outlet for me than writing. When I write, I know what my intentions are. Regardless of whether or not I’m surprised where my ink and paper take me, the concept of my story is grounded in thought – and a thought I’ve spent countless workdays daydreaming over. While my characters may evolve, the story follows a format.

Painting – especially abstract painting – is elusive. I don’t know where my train of thought is going to take me until it’s already moved me there. The brush glides across a flimsy canvas. With acrylic soaked hands, my work speaks for itself, and sometimes, these paintings tell a story that I’m too incapable of saying out loud.

Abstract Painting bad art and meow

Amidst an argument I was having with a few of my closest friends, this painting emerged. It, subconsciously took three of our favorite colors, mashed them together to show what chaos had ensued. Friends argue and makeup; it’s a part of life. When I stood outside, thrashing paint across my lawn, dying blades of grass pink and purple, I realized just how cathartic painting had become for me – and just how loud a message that could utter.

bad art and meow abstract artwork

The same could be said for this painting here – ” Fever, or that time I really wanted you.” There’s a small inscription on the back of the canvas that reads, “love mom and dad,” but it’s not about my parents or my in-laws; it’s about John and I and our love for this child who is yet to exist.

It may seem strange to inscribe such a silly message with an empty womb, but I painted this on a Tuesday evening after work, after a playful conversation that made the two of us realize we were eager to start a family of our own. While we still have several months to go before our wedding, the eagerness we have to start a family has increasingly grown over the years.

Much More Than Words

Before, having a child came with all the plans we’d have to rearrange; it became all about the sacrifice. Now, what we want more than anything is to create someone that’s a part of us; someone who will be brave, be kind, be loving, be impactful to this universe.

Unlike words, whose meanings are outlined in black and white, painting is up for interpretation. A painting can be anything you want it to be. That’s the beauty of it.

 

Old North Church, Boston

On our first morning in Boston, after only 5 hours of sleep and a bland cup of coffee made from the tap water from the bathroom sink, John and I headed toward the most historic landmark in Boston – the Old North Church.

When we were in Salem a few years ago, one of our biggest regrets was driving through Boston and not actually stopping to see any of the historic sites. On my list was the sight of Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride. While I can’t say I know a lot about Paul Revere (or his midnight ride) outside of what I learned in high school, I’ve always considered myself a history buff. That’s why I consider places like Gettysburg and Virginia to be enjoyable vacations. Having the opportunity to learn about our country’s roots has always fascinated me. Who knows, maybe it’s the Philly in me?

Old north church boston ma

The Old North Church is seated in a pretty populated area, with apartments built up on the narrow city blocks surrounding it. Once inside the church, it’s amazing. There were lines of pews, all squared off in section and on them – names of different historical figures. In the front of the church is where the most important individuals were seated, while in the back were where the wardens were seated.

old north church

Each section held books of hymns and old benches, much different than the kinds of pews I grew up in having been raised Catholic. The church is much simpler than what I expected it to be, but I can assume how grand it must have been in the day – a true place for God, for family, for worship.

In the very front of the church lays a lantern representing Paul Revere. While this is not authentic, it was an amazing opportunity to see in person what this lantern represented: freedom.

old north church paul revere lantern

All in all, we spent probably 15 minutes sitting in the pews, starring off at the architecture and historical tidbits that lined the aisles before heading off to grab some lunch at Rina’s Pizzeria Cafe a few city blocks away. While we weren’t visiting the Old North Church for a very long time, it was a humbling experience to stand in a location that turned the tide of America’s history.

I Was Really Bummed Out That I Didn’t Bump In to Nicholas Cage While Visiting Boston’s Historic District

On Friday, July 13th, John and I buckled our seatbelts, ordered extra-large java chip frappucinos and began our adventure to Boston, Massachusetts. We had visited the Bay State about two years ago during an impromptu visit to wicked Salem but had remained steadfast in our eagerness to visit the “wicked smaht” city of Boston.

Having grown up near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, history is in my veins. I remember my mother and I spending weekends in the City of Brotherly Love visiting gravesites, the United States Mint, and Betsy Ross’s house, soaking up all the lush history that my home away from home has to offer. Boston, for me, is a city that holds just as much significance – if not more. Our first stop was to visit the Old North Church in Boston’s Historic District.

This historic landmark isn’t where I’d expected it to be, nestled behind curving streets and tight pathways, with apartments stacked on top of one another. I found it to be quite interesting how much the city of Boston was built up to include its history. That’s what standing in front of the Old North Church reminded me. That – and the final scene in National Treasure when Nicholas Cage tricks Sean Bean into traveling to Boston for the treasure.

Old North Church

Old North Church Boston pg

Inside the church, though, is when you really get lost in time. I felt like my middle-school textbooks had come alive and I wasn’t just reading about Paul Revere – but was standing as a part of its’ story. The most interesting thing about the pews inside the church was how high they were, not making it too easy to see those around you.

Old North Church is surrounded by other areas of historical value that I wasn’t expecting. We had the opportunity to take photos next to the statue of Paul Revere, while also having the opportunity to tour his house.

Old North Church BostonBoston is Rich in History

Boston has a rich history, but you can actually feel it as you walk down their cobblestone streets, up hills and past graveyards. The architecture is unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere – including Portland, who had beautifully made streets and bridges. Personally, I enjoyed how quaint the city was, with local eateries, winding roads, and apparently, the Italian section of Boston where we tasted the greatest pizza of all time at Rina’s Pizzeria and Cafe.  

Rina's Pizza Cafe

I will say that Boston, unsurprisingly so, is highly touristy so be prepared to wait for photo-ops around statues and large crowds. Unlike other cities I’ve visited though, Boston seems to embrace the tourism. They’re friendly, eager to meet those of us who have traveled from New Jersey, Georgia, or Utah, like the friends we met in the hot tub back at our hotel.

*Though now I’m ready to pack my bags for a night out in Salt Lake City*

Boston Historical District

 

While we were only in Boston for a short time, I felt fortunate to visit these iconic places that describe my history and this beautiful country of ours I’m proud to call home. It’s amazing to think about how different life would be had it not been for Paul Revere. These landmarks are affordable and something you should add to your bucket list. Even if you just do Boston for a day, like us, the memories of those winding walkways will stay with you forever.

 

 

 

How I Discovered Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Love in Boston

“Because you can, can, can!” 

It was the phrase that echoed the beautifully curated Emerson Colonial Theatre from the second balcony. When word had gotten around that the prolific Baz Lurhmann film, Moulin Rouge was being adapted for the stage, I stopped what I was doing and whipped out my credit card faster than I’ve done on Black Friday for sales at my local mall.

I’d fallen in a desperately one-sided love affair with the Moulin Rouge since I was 11 years old, owning every song, carefully crafting the words as if I was singing my own Elephant Love Medley. These words – this love – it floated with me throughout the years, whisking me away in the four bohemian truths I vowed to live by: truth, beauty, freedom, and most of all – love. 

Emerson Colonial Theatre pgFrom the moment I, as my typical over-dressed self, put one stiletto into the theater, I was blown away by its beauty and elegance. The walls dripped gold, illuminated by crystal chandeliers, tall mirrors reflected hoards of people dressed in average clothes – and us, donning Marchesa Notte and dapper suits, carrying glasses of rose´ to the second balcony.

The room glowed red, hot like the steamiest burlesque club in Paris. The set was brilliant, beautifully covered with gold and trimmed in elegance. The whirling front of the Moulin Rouge stood gracefully stoic in the corner, while the setting for the most exquisite love medley commanded attention to my right, with a trunk that reached toward the sky.

Moulin Rouge Boston

Once the show started, I was pleasantly surprised when the songs I’d come to know and love were either updated or swapped out for new renditions. In the first act, Christian and Satine sang a plethora of songs by today’s hottest artists like Lorde, Lady Gaga and Walk the Moon while still paying homage to the traditional “Your Song” by Elton John and “Come What May” that described the tangled love affair of two star-crossed lovers.

Moulin Rouge Boston, MA

 

Intermission was filled with more glasses of wine, photo opportunities and anxiously awaiting the finale, which was just as bittersweet on stage as it is in the film. In the film, the death of Satine is plagued with melodramatic undertones. On stage, they eliminated that. They ended the performance with song after song, zesty dance numbers, and bubbly Harold Zidler thrusting confetti into the audience. I left feeling on top of the world, now eager to reminisce my night at the Moulin Rouge whenever “Shut Up and Dance” filters through my radio.

The transition from film to stage was an ambitious endeavor that director, Alex Timbers handled brilliantly. He took the basic bohemian elements of the Moulin Rouge and made it their own with some elaborate and fitting adjustments. They upheld the bohemian belief of beauty by implementing cinematic stage sets, glittering costumes and set changes that made your inner romantic soar. The freedom to interpret the essence of the traditional film with an updated, modern twist was accepted from the entire audience. They were true to the characters, making us fall even harder in love for Christian, played by the ever-so-talented Aaron Tveit and the stunning Satine, played by Karen Olivo while hating the Duke – Tam Mutu who played his role villainously and enigmatically.

Most of all, though, was love that exploded through the seats, adorning a classic film brought to life on the most fitting of stages, echoing a notion we already held true within our hearts – love, because “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved  in return.”

 

7 Reasons You’ll Love Using Rent the Runway

I used Rent the Runway for the first time this weekend – and I still wish I could have kept everything! A few months back, I heard that my favorite Ewan-centric musical, Moulin Rouge, was being adapted for the stage in Boston, Massachusets. Naturally, I shimmied from my desk at work, hid in the cubby and grabbed my credit card to snag my seat for the Boston premiere (not caring that I don’t live anywhere near Boston).

When I was thinner, ordering clothes online wasn’t that big of a deal for me, but ever since I lost my mom, I’ve gained 45 pounds in all the wrong places. I had – and often have – anxiety over looking good in something I ordered offline because, at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is waste my money. My experience with Rent the Runway, though, gave me a confidence boost – and just in the nick of time, too.

Here are 7 Reasons Why You’ll Love Using Rent the Runway:

1. It’s Easy to Use

The first thing I loved about the site was the ease in being able to tailor your search to meet your specific needs. I needed a dress for a formal, black-tie event, not sweaters to wear to work. I loved that I was able to bypass outfits that, while cute, weren’t what I was looking for.

2. There are Many, Many Options to Choose From

It’s not like they have a handful of dresses they recycle; they have hundreds, each somehow prettier than the next. I had six different styles in my cart before realizing I’m not Mariah Carey and can’t get away with doing a costume change in between intermissions.

Rent the Runway Moulin Rouge

3. The Quality of the Clothes

One thing that caught my eye was the high-quality of the outfits I ordered. I’ve purchased expensive products before off eBay – like my gently worn Christian Louboutin shoes or the strappy Prada heels my co-worker gave me, but I’ve never been able to afford an authentic Marchesa Notte dress. The second I slipped the dress on, I instantly felt better – prettier. I could just tell the dress was expensive.

4. Accurate Customer Reviews

The reviews are not only good indicators of whether or not the dress runs true to size, but they offer pictures of the actual renters wearing them. You get to compare how the dress looks on another woman who wears your size and see if you like the way it fits. I ended up ordering a Size 12 and it fit me like a glove.

Rent the Runway

5. Free Second Sizes

While the customer reviews can help alleviate some of the trepidation that comes with ordering clothes online, Rent the Runway provides you an opportunity to get your dress in a free second size (if available). Unfortunately, they didn’t have a second size in my dress but I was able to rent another designer dress, with a second size, for only $32.

6. The Compliments

While walking the streets of Boston to get to the beautiful Emerson Colonial Theather, we received a lot of looks, but all compliments. The dress made me stand out in the best way possible. Employees of the theatre even said we were the best-dressed couple there. The styles aren’t something you can buy off the rack; they’re unique and because of that, people are in awe of where you bought your outfit. From my accessories, purse, dress – the entire thing was rented (but they didn’t have to know that!)

Rent the Runway Boston

7. They Have Designer Brands

I’m not talking about the kinds of designer brands you’d run into at Macy’s like Michael Kors, either (not that I don’t love me some Michael, sorry xxx babe) I’m talking Marchesa Notte. I’m talking Alexis. I’m talking prolific brands with substantial followings, who, if you’re like me, would never in a million years be able to casually purchase off the streets (or in stores) for x-amount of thousands of dollars.

That alone made me feel like I was wearing something exclusive.

Have you ever used Rent the Runway before? What was your experience?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Made The Choice to No Longer Hide My Emotions While I’m Grieving

DiZlGv-UcAAN7-0As much as I’d like to say it gets better, it’s on days like these that I’m fearful that they don’t. I’ve been planning my wedding since December of 2016, after getting engaged six months earlier at my favorite cafe where my soon-to-be-husband and I shared our first caffeinated first date. Fast forward six months later to booking our venue, fawning over ideas and color schemes only to greet my mother’s death two months later.

Her death hit me like a ton of bricks, even though I was suspicious of it. You can only watch your parent deteriorate so dramatically in seven years that ultimately, you begin to fear what the cancer’s been doing all along: smothering her, destroying every once healthy molecule in her body, pulverizing them to be nothing more than the empty carcass you’ll shove six feet under in the coming months. We had just spoken the night before. We were happy, familiar, normal. And then, just like that, she’s gone and the only sense you can make out of her death is about as much common sense that goes into your car breaking down on the side of the road in a rush to get to your parents’ house because all you know is something happened- something horrible.

The months after my mother’s passing were the most prolific, angst-filled days of my young life. In twenty-six years, I experienced hands gripping my throat in a fit of rage. I was torn apart like a rag doll, emotionally tattered at every end. I was teased, brutalized to the point of switching schools. I was born with spinal injuries, tethered cords that almost paralyzed me, endured the crippling pain that until today, permeates my flesh like a hot coil. And yet, with all of that, I’d wish for them every moment if it could somehow eliminate the pain I endured while grieving my mom.

Add wedding planning on top of that. Like some twisted, demented cherry on top of a salty sundae. It just doesn’t work.

I’m Not Okay

Grief entails the following three lines over and over again until you die.

  • She’s there with you
  • It gets easier with time
  • Let me know if you need anything

In reality, though, there’s a thin line between helpful and utter bullshit. See, we say things because we don’t know what else TO say. For those of us grieving, ironically enough, we’re perfectly fine with that omission.

When it came to my wedding, loving advice was passed on to me like I was fragile. In the fits of rage and disappointment that my mother wouldn’t be there to share in these moments with, I conceded, comforted by the traditional sentence: “your mother would want you to enjoy this time.”

Indeed, my mother would want me to enjoy this time. But my mother also would understand that the emotional toll that this type of grief requires is substantially incapable of getting through without appeasing some of my more – ahem, negative, moments.

For a very long time, I’ve gotten used to carrying the weight of this burden – my grief – on my shoulders because I didn’t know how to talk to anyone else. It was kind of like my writing. What used to be helpful only mirrored my pain. If I couldn’t write, how could I simultaneously talk? The words were black and white regardless; a fact, mind you, not many people fully understood.

It’s Okay That I Hate My Wedding

In these moments of gut-wrenching agony, the last thing on my mind is my wedding. In the year and a half since I lost her, I’ve asked to elope several times. Each time was met with apprehension – and understandably so. Why would my groom want to sacrifice the traditional experience? Why would I want to sneak behind my father’s back when his grief is just as extreme as mine? I toy around with the idea before sliding it in my back pocket, only to be flung back out in a fitful vengeance when I’m choking back tears at my work desk.

People’s biggest fear is that I’m not living up to this traditional “bride” experience? But, what really is the traditional “bride” experience? Is it traditional when a bride has lost her father and has to face walking down the aisle alone? Is it traditional when the bride or groom has children from a previous marriage? Is it traditional when the bride wears unconventional colors? Is it traditional to wear Chuck Taylors in a tailored-made ballgown? Or are these examples of adaptations? Are these constructs of people’s minds, their interests, their roles, and customizing them to fit into their ideal mold – not society’s?

When I’m told to enjoy this experience, it comes out of this mindset that I have qualms about marriage, about my groom, about trying to become a parent on the day after we say “I do.” Marriages and weddings are different species and being sad over one does not diminish the other.

It’s Okay That I’m Sad

On days like these, I fight off my tears in an effort to convince myself that I’m alright – that I’m doing okay when the truth of the matter is that I already am. Grieving is a natural process and I’m tired, frankly, of hiding that. Mental health awareness begins with being able to identify what triggers you and allowing yourself to feel those vulnerabilities. I know that my wound-up emotions today won’t reflect my calmed-down state of mind tomorrow. I’m forgiving myself for days like these when all I want to do is run away and elope, feeling angry that I’m having a bridal shower, angry that I’ll be the center of attention because at the moment, what I really want more than anything is just to hide, to find an escape from these emotions, to free myself from their strings and finally be untethered. I’m discovering my affirmation: it’s okay that I’m sad. It’s okay, it’s okay.

 

 

Wizard World Comic-Con Gives Freaks and Geeks A Place to Unite

Philadelphia Wizard World Cosplay

When you’re a seasoned nerd like me, walking into the sparse halls of the Pennsylvania Convention Center on the opening day of Wizard World Comic-Con holds the same excitement as opening up presents Christmas Morning. Instantly, you’re greeted with thousands of cosplayers dressed up like every pop culture icon you could imagine. While there are a variety of popular, trendy cosplayers, the crowd goes bonkers over the more obscure or original concepts. When John and I cosplayed as Jessie and James from the original Team Rocket from Pokemon, we were stopped every two minutes for pictures because at the time, anyone who cosplayed as Team Rocket did the updated versions. It was my first time cosplaying and needless to say, that experience spoiled me. 

Wizard World Lets Adults Be Kids Again

There’s a certain comradery that exists at every Wizard World Comic Con, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is no different. No one judges you on who you’re dressed like, or how good you look in what you’re wearing. It’s a safe space where tax lawyers, waitresses, HR Managers, and bank tellers can let go of who they are Monday through Friday and let their freak flags fly for an entire weekend, losing themselves in being a kid again. Because that’s all we are: kids trapped in adult bodies.

Aside from cosplay, and meeting celebrities from back in the day, like Henry Winkler (the Fonz), your favorite wrestlers like Bubba Ray Dudley (get the tables!), or the newest Marvel characters like Jason Momoa from Aquaman, there’s enough nostalgia and excitement to go around for all ages and interest levels. 

Much More Than Superheroes…

My favorite part of Wizard World though, is taking a walk through Artist Alley. Here, you come across a gold mine of talented artists who can paint, illustrate, write and create unique works of art that bring life to the unusual – like the zombified Little Mermaid doll that has a dingle-hopper dangling from her forehead I bought for $60. 

Every year I’m taken off guard by the quality of product I bump into at not just Artist Alley, but with every vendor. You can’t feel akward for rummaging through a giant pile of plush Pokemon dolls, thinking you’re “too old” because the vendor selling it is just as obsessed with “nerd culture” as you. It bonds us – and my wallet can show the proof!

It’s not a place to be up tight or insecure. Wizard World won’t allow it. They encourage you to get up on stage dressed like Princess Peach and start singing “Don’t Stop Believing” at the top of your lungs. Always stop and ask for pictures with or of cosplayers. As Deadpool wearing a unicorn pool float and snorkles said to me, “We dress up to make people happy.” Somewhere inside I can imagine this is making a very real Ryan Reynolds very, very happy.

The End of Wizard World Always Leaves Me Wanting More

After the weekend ended, John looked at me and asked, “Did you ever see yourself going to a comic-con before you met me?” I could have said something honest and heartfelt, but the giant pink, Jigglypuff plush wedged between my arms said everything I needed to. This life – this is who I am and who I’ve always been. Wizard World is a community I’m lucky to be a part of.  That’s just something you never, ever grow out of.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Wicked Weekend in Salem, Massachusetts

 

Salem Massachusetts Downtown DistrictOne morning in January, my fiance John and I, feeling the itch to travel this beautiful, bold country of ours, felt like taking a weekend trip somewhere new. At first, we planned on heading down South, however, there was something about Salem, Massachusetts that was just calling our name.  We took the drive up north the first week in February, an unusual time to visit one of the spookiest towns in the country. Known for the Salem Witch Trials, it’s thrilling (and wicked) extravagant Halloween celebrations, we worried that we wouldn’t be able to experience Salem the way we would during the busy season. What we learned is that it doesn’t matter what time of year you go, Salem is definitely a town worth visiting.

The (Haunted) Hawthorne Hotel

Legend has it that the Hawthorne Hotel, this exquisite landmark well known to Salem, is haunted. Various reports have all cited seeing a woman roaming the sixth floor and on the third floor, reports of crying children and water in the bathroom mysteriously being turned on. This is what enticed us to book a room. We arrived at the hotel around 7:00pm, and by that time of night, the town was dark. Local businesses by this point in the day had shut their doors and the frigid temps meant empty streets and silent pathways. The Hawthorne Hotel stood as a glowing force in the midst of a darkened street, it’s bright green awning glowing. When you venture into the hotel, it’s like taking a step back in time. The lobby is lush with vibrant florals, antique elevators, soft music churning out from a record player. The concierge waits behind an old wooden desk with a bell, and you immediately fold into the building’s history.

Our room was on the fourth floor, a personal request of mine to try and avoid the paranormal. Eerily, information that we were one of three couples staying in the large, nearly empty hotel made me uncomfortable as we unloaded our bags into our room. There were cracks in the ceiling along the bathroom’s edge. Vintage tiled floor lined the bathroom. The bed was coupled with a nautical theme, images of boats engaging in Boston’s history hung behind the headboard. A small, 10-inch television perched from the wall, grainy. We headed out to grab something to eat at a little Italian Bistro across the way, slurping up pesto linguine, before venturing into our first night in Salem; a night where I’d have a paranormal experience and a crippling paralysis unlike ever before.

Salem’s Downtown District

One of the many perks of staying at the Hawthorne Hotel was the proximity to everything inside Salem’s Downtown District. To the south of the hotel, there is a statue of Nathanial Hawthorne, an icon in the town of Salem, whose book, “The House of Seven Gables” lines every bookshelf of every local bookstore, like Wicked Good Books. On the opposite side of the hotel is the Salem Witch Museum, a gothic-inspired building that goes through the devastating story of the Salem Witch Trials. At first glance, the Salem Witch Museum can seem intimidating – that is until you walk inside and greet the kind-hearted people running the gift shop where you buy a ticket.

John and I didn’t know what to expect, but after buying tickets, we were ushered into a large, dark room and sat there in silence. There have benches lined up around the room and we took one seated all the way in the back. After a few minutes of silence, the speaker came on, introducing us to what would be covered in the upcoming segments. Right beside me was an enormous state of the Devil, and his vile face glowing while a red, pentagram showed up in the center of the floor beside us, etched with all the names of those hung at the Salem Witch Trials. After it’s intimidating start, the show offers a fragmented story told in sections, from how the women acted, to the decision to be hung and grossly, the hanging themselves and being compressed to death by stone. When the doors opened, I bolted out, let out a huge breath and continued on with the tour about the myth of witches and their role in current society.

In addition to the eerie (but fun) experience at the Salem Witch Museum, Salem’s Downtown District offers trendy dining experiences, like Flying Saucer Pizza Company who has the best piece of pizza you’ll ever eat. John and I spent more than an hour sifting through the reasonably priced vintage books at Wicked Good Books, before snagging a photo with Samantha from Bewitched (in statue form, of course).

The Birthplace of Nathanial Hawthorne

One of my favorite and surprising things we did in Salem was visiting the birthplace of Nathanial Hawthorne. Tour of the House of the Seven Gables is reasonably priced and grants you the opportunity to walk inside the house where he was born, marveling at old family pictures and clothing. It’s also where the House of Seven Gables is, and you get to walk through the house, while simultaneously walking through history itself. I was so intrigued by Hawthorne’s history because I didn’t know it. The tour of the house brings you to the center stage of Hawthorne’s mind and inspiration for his work. His legend lives on in the town, and it’s evident they are immensely proud, too. If you’re ever in Salem, it’s a tour worth checking out.

The Salem Witch Trials

No trip to Salem would be complete without acknowledging the tragic end that so many women faced in 1692 through 1693. Old Burying Point Cemetery is a plot of land where time stood still in the midst of a busy downtown district. Here, the last words of those that were hung are eerily etched into stone. While it felt odd to casually walk the uneven pathways, winding between crumbling tombstones, there was something so historical and fascinating about exploring the oldest cemetery in Salem. Names like John Hathorne, one of the judges of the Salem Witch Trials is buried here, among countless others. Without a doubt, it brought sadness to the forefront of your mind; here, you realized the weight and the sad reality of the stories you heard growing up.

I Can’t Wait to Go Back

Despite visiting during the off-season, we had a wonderful experience in Salem. Not only is it quiet, making it the perfect getaway if you’re used to living in a bustling city like New York or Philadelphia, but you’re able to experience the unique activities the town has to offer individually. It’s the perfect little town for learning about our country’s history all while sipping on a great cup of joe from Jaho Coffee,  an artistic and trendy cafe nestled in by the water. Salem is a town with a very somber history, but a culture that does nothing but embraces it. I’d love to visit during the Halloween season when the town is in full swing!

I’d recommend having a stay at the Hawthorne Hotel because it’s an experience unlike any other, for reasons that have nothing to do with the paranormal.