Posted by: Dan | March 15, 2005

Abandoned Houses

I was standing in a ruined house, the flashlight picking up dust, and insulation, and a single infant’s sock. Grey and pink and white faded to yellow. A few old items behind the mirrors and a stack of Christmas cards written in Greek. “Congratulations on the birth of your child.”

I used to go to that house late at night, pushing through the overgrown yard and the hedges that crowded around the porch at the side door. Climbing the stairs, walking over the landing and into empty rooms. Once I climbed into the attic and scrambled out of a hole in the roof. I leaned against the chimney top and smoked quietly while cars of bar-hoppers drifted home on Bayview Ave. Once my flashlight batteries died when I was in the basement. I wandered from room to room in pitch darkness before I finally found the stairs back up to the kitchen where pin-pricks of moonlight stabbed through the boarded windows.

The house was stripped of everything but baby paraphernalia. Behind the mirrors, medicine for toddlers; in a side room, a tiny bathtub and a jolly jumper; in the bedrooms an old stuffed rabbit, and a plastic boat – and of course, the Christmas cards that I found in the fireplace.

Sometimes, walking out in the early hours of the morning, a pair of deer would pass by, damp from the dew and the mist rising from the creek.

I don’t know why I’m drawn to such places. In the city I am drawn to the old, the decaying, and the dilapidated. Abandoned buildings, alleyways, and spaces under bridges. There is a sorrow in such places that is also peaceful. There is a silence that is pregnant. It is full of voices lost in the passage of time. I walk in the midst of stories I will never know, gathering hints and glimpses of lives that I will never meet.

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