It was midnight, and Christine Wang felt edgy.
The then-third-year anthropology student worked the night shift at The Coffee Bean in Westwood. After locking the doors, Wang began the walk back to her apartment across from the cemetery on Veteran Avenue. Her discomfort heightened as she walked down the dark, empty street.
Then she saw a man in a black hoodie facedown in the bush next to her apartment building’s gated entrance.
Fear rushed through her. But no part of her wanted to reach out and help him or call 911. That was because she was likely the only one who could see him.
Wang said she has been seeing ghosts since the age of 3, when she woke to see a person in a black cape standing in her doorway.
“I knew it was something not normal,” Wang said. “I was seeing something that not everyone experiences.”
Talking over salad at a Westwood cafe, Wang, now 23, does not give off an aura of psychic ability, with a yellow striped shirt and a cheery demeanor. A self-described “everyday girl,” Wang graduated from UCLA in 2008 with a degree in anthropology. She recently became a full-time mom after working as a technical writer in the corporate world.
She just happens to be, as she puts it, “sensitive.”
“It’s something you get in touch with intuitively,” Wang said.
In her sleep, images of future events, deceased relatives and scenes of past lives on Earth appear regularly to her. One dream predicted that she would have a son, which turned out to be true.
In her time at UCLA, Wang struggled with her sensitivity, especially on a religious level.
She identified herself as a non-denominational Christian through college. But she had trouble reconciling her religious beliefs with her personal experiences, which indicated a presence of ghosts and the recycling of souls.
Now, she no longer identifies with a religious institution. Wang developed her own system to explain what she sees and feels, which includes shying away from scientific or psychological musings. And it has led her to acceptance.
“I don’t want interference into my personal experiences,” Wang said. “Everybody wants to prove by science, (but) you either experience it or take someone’s word for it.”
Her identical twin, Candice Wang, said she believes what her sister sees is real. But she herself has not had the same life experiences.
“I can’t even imagine what she sees,” Candice Wang said. “We share everything, but we don’t share this.”
Wang’s boyfriend, Steve Frank, remembers the morning she woke up and told him that their child would be a boy. But he said, discussing his own skepticism, “It’s a 50-50 chance.”
On the other hand, Wang said she has met hypersensitive people who are physically and emotionally tormented by ghosts ““ more familiar to fans of “The Sixth Sense.”
Wang falls in the middle, she said.
“I’m aware of both worlds; I see things here and there,” Wang said. “It’s the best place to be.”
Her sensitivity used to be crippling. During her second year of college, her then-boyfriend worked the night shift at the Hedrick Hall front desk. She stayed up late on the phone with him, unable to sleep and comforted by the sound of his breath.
At the time she saw the man in the black hoodie, Wang was emotionally vulnerable, single and far away from her twin. She was especially susceptible at night.
She still never sleeps alone. But after years of experiences, personal growth and now motherhood, Wang now views her sensitivity as a gift, even one that can help others.
Through a dream, she said she diagnosed a malignant tumor in a friend a week before the doctor did.
A few weeks ago, Wang drove back past the apartment where the man in the hoodie appeared. It may seem odd that a college student who sees ghosts would choose to live across the street from a cemetery.
But Wang said the moment she walked into the apartment she felt a sense of peace. In her soul she knew that it was the place she was supposed to live that year.
Driving by, Wang said, laughing, “I can’t believe I used to live here.”
But she added that she no longer feels uneasiness or fear. And that extends to the rest of her life. Wang casually mentioned that a ghost lives in her Glendale apartment, a “completely harmless guy” aged 30 to 40.
She said there are more people like her out there, and she would like to start a dialogue.
She encourages people like her to find meaning in each experience.
“A lot more people than you think are (sensitive),” Wang said. “But it’s not something everybody talks about.”