Time and Space
As long as I can remember I have been drawn to abandoned buildings, corroded weed-covered cars, churches whose bricks have crumbled upon each other, dilapidated barns, and houses that have been left to ruin. I look at them and wonder. Who worked there? Did they drive that car to the prom? Where did the people who prayed there go? And why aren’t they praying there anymore? What kind of animals were tended to in that barn? How many kids played in the yard of that once inhabited house?
I have my parents to thank for this, I believe. Many of our family excursions consisted of getting some ice-cream and taking long drives into the hills and ridges of the towns south of ours. I’d sit in the back seat, looking out to find these old dwellings, and I’d make up stories about them. Being an only child I had a vast imagination, so this was something I did often.
Luckily I met and married a man who shared my love and appreciation for long country drives. Often times we’d take off, on our motorcycle, zooming through the Allegheny Mountains. I’d be on the back of the bike, looking around, taking it all in, finding beauty everywhere and in everything. In the trees, the weeds, the dirt roads, the broken barns. Then we moved to New Orleans for a couple years. That place is one of insane history and beauty. Everywhere I looked there was some sight to behold and some story for me to happily concoct.
We have since passed along the tradition of the country drive to our children. We pile into our van and head out to explore the mountainous region that we live so close to. Being at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains there is much to see and it seems that there is an abundance of old and broken-down places. Sometimes we hear complaints about the rides, but the promise of an old-school bottle of Orange Crush or Grape Nehi will usually quell any grumblings.
This past New Year’s Eve the kids and I set out to run some errands. We grabbed some lunch and after our bellies were full, and we had our movies and snacks picked for the evening, I turned down the road that would take us the long way home. We ended up on a little dead-end street that we had never seen before. At the beginning stood a what-used-to-be-white little shack of a house that had a ‘for sale by owner’ sign on it.
“Mama, it looks like there’s some cool stuff in that place. We should stop,” my eldest son, Mikey, said to me.
“I see that, big boy. Let’s go have a look-see,” I replied as I prepared to make a three-point-turn.
I got out and approached the little dwelling, but I didn’t expect to see what I saw. Inside it was as if time stood still. Everything was in it’s place, and it wasn’t of modern time. What was this place? A little restaurant? An office? Who worked there? Who sat smoking at that desk? What kind of cigarettes did they smoke? Was it hot the day they laid the horseshoes in the fresh cement? These are the questions that raced through my mind. Inside and out there were remnants of something different. That “je ne sais quoi” that makes up the beauty of time and space.
Time stood as still
As the gourds and Indian corn
The once occupied desk empty
Unlike the ashtray and walls
Drinks are no longer cold
And the snack bins are void
Only a rust and dust cover
Can be found
Upon the place where time stands still
Where the clock reads 10:21
January 1, 2009
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