Dilapidated, decaying, decrepit. They sit abandoned, forgotten, and forlorn. That is what most people see. I’ve long since seen the beauty behind these places, being taken back by nature as they slowly crumble into exquisiteness.
I remember on any road trip always being drawn to those tall old barns standing against the Midwest sky. I’d feel an urge to explore to stop and take it all in.
The place that stopped me in my abandoned loving tracks was monumental. I was thirteen and wanting to walk in the footsteps of my great grandma, visited Ellis Island. You could see the worn treads of the stairs, the painstakingly arranged displays of polished and restored artifacts, the pictures telling the stories of the thousands upon thousands that trailed through on their way to the American Dream, the scenes reenacting their experiences.
It was a door off to my left that caught my attention, clearly reinforced and locked so no one would enter. This was before they restored much of the island. There were parts of the main building that were untouched. I was drawn to this door, to look back in time through that little window.
The layers of dust and haphazard arrangement not at all like the meticiulate displays around us made it clear that this was a room that they hadn’t
ruined gotten their hands on yet. It was beautiful; a time capsule, sealed and forgotten.
It was as if time had held still the contents of that room. Papers and books stacked on shelves, sheets left out on tables with pencils laying next to them as if the writer simply took a break. Chairs pushed in and chairs not quite.
You could just see people like my great grandma shuffling along, weary from her journey yet with shoulders back, proud. Carrying all that she brought with her to this country where her family would build a new life. I could have stared and wondered for hours, taking it all in and memorizing each detail. Letting the stories play in my head.
These places are everywhere. Houses, parks, entire cities, abandoned to be forgotten. Until someone notices. Until someone captures it and shares the beauty and allows us to take a look back in time and imagine the stories.