Eric Nuzum really is afraid of ghosts. Or, he used to be. In his memoir Giving Up the Ghost: a Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper and What It Means to Be Haunted, Nuzum delves into his painful past, faces his fears, and comes up with a new understanding of his personal phantoms.
Growing up in Canton, Ohio, Eric Nuzum was a nonconformist punk rocker, with the clothes, piercings, and attitude to match. He had one special friend, however: Laura Patterson. A year younger and a good student, Laura would call Eric and they would “hang out,” which meant driving around or parking the car in a secluded spot. They would talk, listen to music, smoke, drink. Once in awhile Laura would let Eric give her a goodnight kiss, but mostly not. And she most emphatically never talk about herself, so Eric heard nothing about her family, other friends, school plans.
Eric confided in Laura something he could not really share with others: that his house was haunted, that he was haunted. Strange noises came from the attic of his house, and at night, he had a recurring dream, of a little girl in a blue dress, screaming at him in gibberish. Eric’s fear of her made him sleepless and anxious and led him to seek relief in drugs.
After he graduated from high school, Eric commuted to a local college but stopped attending classes, lied about his whereabouts, and contemplated suicide. He became so distraught he ended up in the psychiatric ward of a local hospital. Laura was the only friend who came to see him there, and her encouragement gave him the motivation to pull himself together. Eric was heartsick when, a few years later, Laura is struck by a car and killed.