The In-Between: An Abandoned America blog
06th January 2013
For as long as I can remember, I've dreamed of these places.
Subterranean ruins buried beneath the streets we walk on. Ancient metropolises overgrown and crumbling, hidden away from the maddening crowds. Passages and tunnels that lead out into derelict malls, factories, mansions. It's one of the few consistent things I can recall in my life.
In the dreams I find myself alone in the stillness, always wandering without any real awareness of purpose or destination. The places I visit remain impassive and mute, filled with hints of previous tragedies and triumphs that I will never know of. Byzantine architecture constructed by long-dead hands and minds surrounds me, and sometimes its scale and majesty is terrifying, others delightful.
In my adult life, one recurring theme is that I have forgotten my camera but stumbled onto something I know I have to capture. Without it, I'll never be able to. Perhaps it's my subconscious awareness that nothing I see will ever make it out of the dream with me into the waking world. Entire desolate city blocks and disused arcades are glimpsed in an instant and washed away at dawn, and yet I can feel in them a need for something I can neither identify or provide. I am not a rescuer, I am an observer. What I witness, I witness in silence, for there is no one to tell of it.
It seems inevitable that I would find my way into such places in the waking world sooner or later, that I would try to make sense of them somehow and share them in a way I've never been able to with the realms I inhabit when I sleep. Many times I've felt the odd twinge of deja vu, that I have been here before and seen it before. Maybe I have.
When you look at a building, you see it as a physical object rooted in a physical place. This one was a school, this was a factory. This is what it means, this is the message to take from it. Then you stop looking at it and move on.
I can't do that. When I look at these places, I see cyphers, elaborate riddles whose answers have been lost somewhere beneath the sands of time. Even though I have seen what lies above and below on the staircase in this photograph, there is also the possibility that next time I go through the doors will lead somewhere else. In the abandoned places I visit, the veil is thin - between waking and dreaming, life and death, awareness and unconsciousness.
Maybe that's what I'm looking for, a way to bridge the gap. In the abandoned the past, present, and future have collapsed into one point. I don't think I ever had a choice about coming here at all.
Image and text by Matthew Christopher.
If you like this page, perhaps you'll enjoy my Abandoned America page on Facebook and my upcoming book.
By jrronimo: Lovely post. Good words for similar feelings.