Saturday, February 28, 2009

in shambles

Highway 58 runs roughly parallel to the Virginia/North Carolina state line, 10-12 miles into VA. You're on this highway for something like two hours when you take the trip from my parents' house to the farm. It's just a little two lane highway; and you were stuck trucking along at a pokey 55mph or slower the entire way until just a few years ago when they granted us 60mph for a fair stretch. Along the banks of the road, it's miles and miles of forest, farmland, cotton and corn crops, mom & pop shops, the occasional cluster of gas stations and fast food restaurants, and not a few decrepit houses.

I took this picture near the end of last semester with my manual camera; not as a project but just for myself. I find most old, run down things utterly fascinating. Unfortunately, this one has a NO TRESPASSING sign, so what is you see is as close as I could get. It was foggy and getting dark on one of my trips back to Greenville and I didn't want to spend a lot of time looking for old buildings without warning signs in front.

Do you ever think about buildings like this one? Somebody bought or possibly chopped the wood that composed it. It was created with intent for a purpose, and I guarantee you that it didn't look this way when it was first completed. This one looks like it's just a very large storage shed; I REALLY love the ones that were once homes. I'll never forget the day Z and went walking in the woods near CIU and went inside a tiny house that had long been abandoned. The wooden floor was bowed in with huge gaping holes between the planks, the air inside was musty and damp and stank of mildew, the windows were smashed, doors dangling from the hinges, and the whole thing stood precariously tilted - not nearly at a 90 degree angle with the ground. Yet there were signs of life strewn about inside - books, furniture in various stages of disrepair, pages, clothes, trash. Someone lived there once... now it would fail to protect even a stray cat from the elements.

What sort of life did those people live? In what decade? Where did they go in such a hurry that they left so many belongings behind? What did the house look like when they left? How much of this damage was caused by looters, how much by natural causes?

The house didn't look that way when it was made. It was clean. It stood upright. It smelled of freshly cut wood. Someone prepared meals, read books, slept, and got dressed and ready for the day from inside that home. The sun rose and fell over that tin roof that pinged whenever it rained. The windows were once whole and clean and looked out into a menagerie of secluded forest. Maybe it was never perfect, maybe it was never even made to last... but those who made it didn't make it in the hopes that it would end up looking like this.

There are a lot of things in life that are like that, y'know? You can build a beautiful house, or dream, or relationship, or physique, or spiritual life, but if you do nothing to preserve it and keep it up, it will eventually weather and decay. Everything takes work to maintain, and the less you do to maintain in the day to day, the more you will have to do later to return something to its former state of beauty... and so much the worse if you don't keep out those who come to steal, kill, and destroy.

Then again, it was always my dream, as I drove by all those leaky roofs and shattered windows, to own one of those houses one day. To get the chance not to rebuild it but to take the good that had once been and make it good again.

[I think there is potential for many good, specific implications of this post, but I'll leave it open-ended for you to make them yourself. (that's code for "I don't have a particular one in mind," lol) happy weekend. ^_^ ]

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