You ever drive across the country? This one, where I’m writing this. The United States. It’s big, real big. Hard to appreciate until you’re on the road doing sixty. You can drive for eight hours straight, maybe stop to piss and refuel, and still not be through some states. A lot of the country is plains. Miles and miles of nothing, far as the eye can see.
Well, almost nothing. If you’ve ever done the cross country thing then you know about the shacks. Old barns, dilapidated homes, little structures no one uses anymore. Hard to tell the last time someone set foot inside. I sure wouldn’t. Most look as if one huff-and-a-puff would send them tumbling down. Whenever I see one of those abandoned places, I wonder about the people. Who built it? Did a family live there? Sometimes I see the wood go from grey and rotted to fresh and solid. I see a couple, arm-in-arm, standing out front. Beyond a fence, cows plod through fields. Parents watch their children kick a pig’s bladder.
How did they end up there? Started across the country and decided that here, in the middle of nowhere, was the place for them? Why? Then what happened? Where did they go? It’s hard for me to wrap my head around it. They spent some time building this place, making it home, just to abandon it and move on? What’s it like on that final day? I picture them loading all their things onto wagon. They take a final look back at this home they’ll never see again, and set off.
Time marches on, weather changes, weeds grow in through the floors. Birds and rodents make use of the shelter. And a hundred years later I drive by and see a shack barely standing. The thing that always gets me about these places is how dearly they were once loved and cared for. And now they’re forgotten by everyone but the random passerby who happens to look out his window as he zips by at a mile a minute. But I guess that’s true of just about everything. Given enough time, everything will be forgotten.