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if only

if only - Conquistador China*
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It seemed like it just went on and on forever - burnt corridor after burnt corridor, collapsing floor after collapsing floor, until all the buildings blurred together and all that was left was a never-ending stretch of smashed dreams and snarled ambitions. I couldn't seem to find my way out. Even in my sleep I visited them, lost without my camera as a compass and entirely bereft of context or purp
ose. They stared at me through shattered window eye sockets and gaping doorway maws, defying me to justify them somehow, to come up with a reason or a meaning, to translate my own sickness through them in a way that would somehow leave us both whole. It wasn't just a matter of finding my way back into the safe and sanitized world of the living, with its prepackaged desires and ambitions contrasted against the backdrop of a swiftly encroaching entropy that was greedily eating away at the foundations of our entire way of life. It was much more difficult to understand and explain than that. Each building I visited confirmed something I couldn't articulate, a dark but long held belief about the utter meaningless and indifference of existence itself and about the terrible toll we take on all of the things around us.

If only there was a way out, I kept thinking. There had to be a way. One of these charred husks held something important and sacred. One of these rotted stairways led to an answer I had been looking for my whole life. In my minds eye I envisioned opening a long-locked doorway amidst the ruins and finding myself somewhere else, in a world without all the nonsense - a world where I didn't have to pretend to be something or someone I wasn't, where I could be like other people and just enjoy a nice summer afternoon without the dread and the sorrow seeping in at the edges until I gave up and embraced it. Though my hope was dwindling, I kept pushing myself, daring fate to either give me an adequate response or end me and silence all the noise in my head once and for all. If only it would choose one or the other, I kept thinking. If only.

Text and photograph by Matthew Christopher, taken at Conquistador China.

Also in: Conquistador China*

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