I sat scrunched up in the mouth of a tall, skinny window where its glass panes had been broken away, with my back and feet against each side of its frame. My feet kicked away bits of the cracking paint from its edges as I sat with a vast world of silence on either side of me; each one its own. The streets outside; littered with fluttering trash, gapped roads, and cracked sidewalks lined with forgotten, vacated structures. The large classroom, inside to my right. Clouded air filled the stale, damp area while dust collected on the tops of desks littered with math books and past homework papers.
From deep within the structure; up and down through stairwells, in and out of classrooms, down cluttered hallways, past lockers and classrooms, you could hear a faint pitter-patter of dripping, the crumbling surroundings dropping to the floors where children once ran to catch the bell, the fluttering of student’s school papers, and the constant slamming of classroom doors being swept wide open and pushed shut violently by the wind. It was almost as if you could feel the life still continuing to live on through the halls of Wilson Elementary.
I sat back in a desk, relaxed and lit my final cigarette. Chilled, peaceful, and alone I sat but I could not shake the feeling of being surrounded by the children’s presence which once roamed these halls almost a century ago. The crackling of a cigarette, and a tail of smoke swiveling from the glowing red ember was all that filled the air while I sat grasping that moment in time. The dampness bound to the air as it covered the room, and the life of Wilson Elementary lived on through vividly painted scenes of imagination which raced through my mind as I sat quiet at the desk. It brought a sense of warmth, clarity, and calmness to my day.
I suddenly began feeling chilled and timid. Shaky from the wrists to the fingertips, I decided to stand up and walk through the hallway which lay outside the classroom door. I strolled to the auditorium and gazed over the vast, empty room; curtains remained hanging tattered, debris strewn across the stage, and an Adamesque sculpted edge bordering the entire show. This view was that of pure beauty within the eyes of an urban explorer.
Where one may see just an empty and decaying auditorium, an explorer will see a giant canvas full of color, beauty, history, and inspiration. Everything can be beautiful, and everything can become art; some just hides behind the eyes of closed-mindedness. Is your canvas full? Because if it is, chances are you’re not doing very well at applying your imagination to the canvas right in front of you.