Excerpt from Chasing Spirits © Nick Groff, 2012My parents, Maureen and David, tried to encourage me to be very athletic because I was always running around anyway. I was on the swim team by age four and got used to swim practice before and after school. I was a great swimmer and traveled all over the place for tournaments and meets. Looking back, I’m sure that’s where I got the urge to see the world and travel to different places. When you spend a lot of time on the road, you get a sense of adventure early on. Locations have an identity and personality of their own. Some towns are depressed, others are quiet, and still others burst with energy. The people who live in such places create that energy and feed off of it at the same time.
After Nashua, my family moved to Salem, New Hampshire. That was an amazing place to live. My dad built a house on a cul-de-sac in an area surrounded by forest. Trees and streams and hills were everywhere around me. I was six years old and spent hours exploring the woods and building forts. Sometimes I’d be out there with my friends, but I also spent plenty of time exploring on my own. I loved the woods, loved the mystery of it, the sounds you’d hear in the distance, the strange shadows cast by the trees. An underlying sense of fear got into my blood. Every shadow was a place for something to hide or for me to explore. Like any town, the woods have a life and personality too. Looking back, I can see this was a time when the paranor¬mal was oozing into my bloodstream.
New England is full of ghost stories and paranormal tradi¬tions. With so much history, with tales of Old World witchcraft in nearby Salem, Massachusetts, and with a population that speaks pretty openly about its haunts, how could I not become who I am today?
Sports and friends were the two biggest parts of my life as a kid. I was an adrenaline junkie even back then. I was such a strong swimmer that I broke a national record for the fifty-yard freestyle when I was ten years old. I also played soccer and bas¬ketball. I was a rowdy athlete, and that sometimes got me into trouble in school and in town. I was ultracompetitive and always wanted to win, but I loved to have a good time too.
I loved making people laugh, because that made me the cen¬ter of attention . . . and it usually meant my teachers would be pissed off at me for the disruption. My parents got a lot of phone calls and had plenty of meetings with the school. My dad was a lawyer, so he had to deal with people’s shit all day long, and then he’d have to come home and deal with me. Sometimes I don’t know how he and my mom did it.
Don’t get me wrong—I was a good student when I wanted to be. I got C’s and B’s. I could be smart when I was interested in something. I was lucky to have a few teachers who helped me find my way and get focused.
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