I slipped through the doorway and into building, allowing my eyes time to adjust to the change in light. It was dark and seemed smaller now that I was inside it. If the walls had been built of adobe or thick clay it would make sense that the interior was smaller than the exterior. Historically these walls were built thick to help keep the heat in or the cold out depending upon the seasons.
Given that the building had been constructed of roughly hewn logs, I decided it was the collapsing roof that gave it the almost claustrophobic feel of smallness. Focusing on what made the space seem smaller was better than focusing on who might be sharing the space with me. Snakes, stinging bugs and all sorts of creepy crawlies are known to hide out from the hot daytime sun in these abandoned buildings.
I hadn’t come in to escape the sun; I had wanted to step inside and see what the space was like. I guess I thought it would give me a sense of those who had lived here before, or at least tried to live here before. Maybe I wanted to catch the essence of those pioneers who didn’t worry about the odds, or what was stacked against them as long as they had decent land and access to water. What made those people want to stay here, so far away that you could literally hear the silence riding in on a breeze and feel with weight of open spaces? Of course I knew, even then, I was projecting my modern concerns onto something from another time and place. Not a simpler time, for I cannot fathom how trying to make anything grow in the rocky ground would be simple, just a different time.
I can feel a part of me soar off on the breeze, free to see what’s over the next hill or find a rock to perch upon and see the new view. Another part of me seems rooted in or at least near the building, trying to find who lived there and what these people were like. Would people, at some point in the future, slip through one of my own doorways and pause the way I did or would it be a space just decaying at its own pace much like the person who used to live in it?
I want to linger, to stay in this peaceful place but somewhere further up the hillside, near where we parked, I imagine Beloved pacing the way he does when he is bored or hot. He is probably both I decide as I make my way back out of what once was someone’s house. The heat is no doubt radiating off the dark pavement; his face will be a brilliant reddish color both from the heat and the sun. He has had enough of these abandoned places, he has seen enough that he can paint his own picture, but he will not deny me what I need. Nor will he sit in the car with the air conditioning on. Instead he will wait out in the heat and pace while he waits for me. He will remind me that neither of us could handle the day to day existence that these people had as he pulls out a cool bottle of water and offers it to me with a grin. And we slip easily into that cool car and cover more ground in a day than those people would have been able to cover. Are we better for it? No. Will our places also become abandoned? Probably.