Mysteries and Histories

People are always asking me why I am so fascinated with abandoned places… why I am drawn to graveyards and cemeteries…why I enjoy going to old, historical sites. These questions come very frequently. Yet, I have never asked myself why…

As far back as I can remember I have adored old, forgotten places and things. One of my earliest memories is of a small thrift shop. For a short time my grandparents owned a business office in the same plaza as a little second hand store. I would visit them in the summer and liked to “work”  in the office. That is how I discovered the shop.

To me, it was magical. There were no duplicates of anything. Pieces of old lives were strewn about on the shelves and counters. For sale. I could buy a mystery. Who did it belong to? Where did it once live? What was the story behind it? I remember my first purchase was a pair of lace gloves that I ended up dying black and cutting the fingers off of when Madonna came into my life. But for a time, those gloves were a prized possession.

Years later, my father took me to another enchanted shop. It was over the river, and through the woods, on the way to an ancient, native American fort. The antique shop was inside an old brick church with a graveyard next to it surrounded by a wrought iron fence. Mysterious, wondrous objects of every kind were stuffed into that musty place. Ancient flint arrowheads, foreign coins so old that the engravings were impossible to make out, marbles used years ago, glass medicine bottles, knives, bottle caps, and BOOKS. My little heart fell in love.

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I remember being fascinated by pieces of old rail track in the woods behind my neighborhood. Enthralled by stories of ghosts left to mourn their lost lives in crumbling, dusty houses. I spent my teen years exploring abandoned buildings, ruins, and cemeteries. Mostly at night with thrill seeking friends who never really cared about the stories… the history…

So why?

Why are some of us born with this yearning to explore that which has gone before and is no longer? I meet others like me. Those who vacation to ancient burial grounds. Wanderers and wonderers who spend their weekends trespassing through Poison Ivy to catch a glimpse of another time. Searchers who stay up all through the night looking for their ancestors.

I never ask them why.  Maybe next time I will…