On April 9, 2015 I stepped into what was once a beautiful country home, built by a loving and caring family. This home, like many others through the calm collective of broken backstreets and forsaken farmland, remains as nothing more than a pigeonholed box of garbage to almost all who pass. Many of us open books, and most of us will even look inside, but it’s important that we take a moment to read. I always do my best to truly see a place for not only what it is, but also what it once was, learning its full story. Sometimes, just as with many books, you can discover a wonderful world hidden inside these structures. So what will become of the places that life has vacated? In most cases, homes are swallowed whole by nature itself, but many of them can sit untouched for decades, simply collecting dust. As usual, I had no idea what I was about to walk into, but what I soon witnessed here could only be described as overwhelming; so overwhelming, in fact that I can’t even choose a specific word to describe the brilliance of it all.
Upon entrance, everything was in such an untouched, pristine condition; I could almost hear the home breathe. I felt the forgotten life wrap itself around me, immersing me into a collection of vivid memories. I was almost able to envision the days spent inside these walls through forsaken fragments of a past life. Musty papers, books and knick-knacks sat at either side of me as I trailed my fingers along dusty tabletops, traversing this empty space once abundant with life.
If you were to ask around, most of the neighborhood would tell you that one of the home’s former residents was quite a musician. Neighbors would stand outside in the warm, calm breeze of summer, hearing music fall from the house, listening as she played her organ at the open window. A harmonic connection fluttered through summer air and a delighted neighborhood would enjoy the show. It has now been years since any music has drifted from this home, as all has sat quiet since she passed.
Collections of forgotten treasures fill the space inside this former home, now resembling a dusty time capsule. Spider webs scale across couches, arm to arm, while books remain balanced on their shelves, and like a rose pressed between the dry pages of musty storybooks, hand-written notes survive scattered throughout. They enclose one’s whole world, an entire life held between their pages. One year, all was left behind and decades have since passed, while the pages of each book remain pressed together from end to end. Flattened notes still cling to them on their insides, while like chalky, chapped lips, the front and back covers sit tightly closed, screaming inside, wanting desperately to share a life full of stories.
In the backwoods, you never know what you might find left behind. These items remain situated amidst a mostly still environment, as dust and dirt continue to build up year after uninhabited year.
While searching through the attic, I noticed a lonely family photograph book protruding from a stack of papers, sitting atop a group of busted boxes. Normally, I feel as though if I could just reach into the pages of these books, I could become one with the lost lives they hold; in this particular instance, that was not the case. This photo book, just like the home surrounding it, sat empty. Growing more curious, I knelt before a stack of papers, my mind wandering one thought to the next as I sifted through signatures, notes and discarded doodles. Almost all documents inside this home date back to 1979 or earlier, with many items ranging anywhere from late 1800s to mid 1900s. Easter cards from 1979 rest perfectly preserved aside a living room chair, exactly 36 years since last Sunday, April 5, 2015.
Upstairs, a woman and her husband had left behind a small book of hand-written notes. The first two pages contain jokes, along with quotes written by them both. A child’s doodle remains on the third and final page, while all following pages sit blank. The husband, whom we will call Henry, was born in 1896. Henry passed away in 1979, leaving Clara, his wife of 51 years to tend to the home. Clara was only slightly younger, born in 1908, and continued to live into the year 2000, when she passed away. Exploring this home, it seems that she may have been taken in by family or brought to a home shortly after her husband’s death, considering the many dates found inside. Their real names have been omitted, for privacy reasons.
It seems as though every photograph or piece of art that had ever hung inside this home now lay scattered across walls, floors and tables. Even in the bathroom, fresh soap sits, just as it was when first placed in a dish. Journals, trinkets, sewing machines, word scrolls and more sit beside an old player piano in the attic – it’s like nobody has set foot inside for nearly 36 years.
We have reached a strange point in our timeline, where more and more structures have collectively become abandoned over the years, leaving us with a massive collection to sort through. We are faced with a very real representation of “out with the old, in with the new.” As people move from countryside to city, an increasing number of homes will become abandoned, due to their location. These structures will not be here forever, so it is important to document what is being tossed aside, left behind and forgotten. These photographs and writings will provide meaning for future generations, showcasing what once was, and is now no more.
Check out the entire photo gallery here – http://bit.ly/1b8kHmS/