If I were not sworn for life to protect confidentiality I would have a photo to share with you. But I can tell you some of the story.
Tonight while on official business, my last address of the day turned out to be an abandoned old house on a hill. I got there by an overgrown gravel road.
Had it been dark, I would not have stopped and gotten out of the car. As my friend said, that’s the start of a horror movie. But it was still daylight, so I stopped.
I saw an old mattress on the back porch as I picked my way through the weeds. I found a “taxes due” notice on the front door. No one answered my knock, which I expected, but I saw there was still a couch inside, at least.
I saw an extension cord leading from the house, and when I walked towards the shed that it disappeared into, I noticed that the shed was locked.
I wonder what’s going on there.
Since the tax notice was fresh, I went ahead and left my card. Maybe someone will call.
For backstory, I’ll give you this: my friend was having some problems and needed a ride. Fifty-nine miles away and in another state.
So I was driving.
I’d started the trip thinking about how I’ve become completely unable to resist someone in the midst of a crisis, simply because no one had been there for me in the midst of my own. If you call me crying, and I care the least little bit about you (which of course I do, because otherwise you wouldn’t have my number), I’ll do whatever I can to help you. It’s the fault in my stars.
As I neared the state line, I stopped thinking about that, and moved on to my surroundings. I passed an old abandoned hotel, named after the hamlet in which it was located. It only had about sixteen rooms, and may in fact have had less square footage than the home I’m living in now. Most of the rooms were open to the elements, either with wide open doors or missing them completely. I thought about what an incredibly tempting place to explore that would be, were it closer to home. I wondered who had stayed there, who had owned the place, and what they had been like. I would have stopped for a picture, but remember, I was on a mission.
So I kept going.
And I passed more homes, out in the middle of nowhere, some with cows or donkeys or horses grazing, some with rusted out old cars, some with nothing but woods nearly up to the house.
I passed a blue and white plaid couch on the side of the road, upside down, discarded amongst the trees.
Then I crossed the state line, and I entered the land of county roads, where there are so many they don’t even have names other than their numbers. Narrow and bumpy and pitted, these roads still led to so many homes, so many people.
And for the first time that I can think of, I wanted to know about their lives. Not just their big adventures, but their small, day-to-day ones as well. I wondered about what they did when they woke up in the morning, and what their fondest memories of childhood were, and how often they rearranged their furniture.
I’ve driven the roads around here so many times, they’ve become so familiar, that I don’t think about the people whose homes I pass every day. Their places are my places; we share convenience stores and movie theaters and restaurants. I don’t know them, but I’m sure I’ve at least seen most of them with my own eyes, somewhere, sometime.
This was all new to me, and suddenly, these people who have lives just like anyone else’s seemed shiny and new and interesting. Even though it isn’t really that far, and I do live within the sprawling suburban fingers of their nearest big city. I probably have seen some of them on the road or at a festival or a casino. But I didn’t think about any of that right then.
I only wondered.
I wondered who was going to write their stories. And I thought about how dearly I’d love to read them.
Especially that hotel. It was a hulk, but it was beautiful.
I should have taken a picture.