My August 9th birthday trip was the best thing I’ve done in years, totally screaming true-to-myself. I picked roads that scared my wife, but hey, she came, and marveled with me at the staggering vastness. She’s tough. I’m tough. We’re all tough. I drove right past this thing. She said, “You ought to take a picture of that house.” Well, what a surprise, of course I should and why the hell hadn’t I, so I proceeded down the gravel road to turn around in the driveway of yet another long-dead homestead, where a pair of red-tailed hawks flew out of an actual tree and swooped so low, they burned us with their eyes.
The place above is made of stone and sits there daring fate. A broken, faded realtor’s sign lies hidden in the weeds. The property even has a kind of skinny shelter dug into the hillside with the ruins of a dirt roof. How many different ways to fail are built into this scene? A short ways farther west we found a three or four-house town and spied a living human being. She didn’t look up as we drove by and I was not surprised. The poignancy out here is palpable—you could slice it into blocks and build a tragedy. I’d been alerted to a certain memorial nearby but missed it in my birthday rush. You might check out that link.
Since writing those words, I’ve learned that the building in question is actually an old schoolhouse that someone recently bought. It was listed at ninety thousand and came with one hundred sixty acres. The odd long structure with the dirt roof must be where students tied their horses. Oh, man. My correspondent lives just down the road and has wild horses running on his land. He says, “Dreams are built out here. Thinking about building this area up again.”
The space will do that to you. The quiet melts the walls.