I hate when people ask me where I’m from, (but that’s another rant.) When they nag for specifics, I always leave it at “a village.” You really have to travel to appreciate how isolated and lost in time my hometown is. It’s mostly mountains, with a few struggling businesses and “busy” areas thrown in the mix of forgotten homes and a past that far outshadows the sad present.
The thing about home, and in particular, my school, was that it always unsettled me; this is not a new development. Even in my younger years I felt so uncomfortable there, like I was a lost kid in a big wilderness full of monsters and spirits and evils. I used to write “ghost” stories about the haunted schools and read books that gravitated towards children and paranormal events for the sole reason that I wanted to relate to someone. I don’t know if others noticed this uneasy fog around every aspect of our education–in fact, I still don’t know, but it was very real to me as a little girl. Maybe everyone feels similarly about their elementary school?
It was almost validating to go back and see my school in the state that it was in. The fact that it’s been abandoned for years now lends credibility to my perception of home: it’s falling apart. I had the same perception of Ghost Town–this place that at one time held a trove of childhood memories is now an empty carcass with nothing to offer except nostalgia and pain.
I’ve passed by it a few times on a few visits, and always looked on it with the same apprehension that I give my past. Like a pandora’s box I’m not ready to open, because I remember the “once-was.” I recall being there for so many hours, for so many years, good memories and bad (okay, mostly bad) but despite its aura of weirdness, it still had a place in my heart. How could it not? I learned to read and write there–I remember learning both. I went to Halloween carnivals there, ate some questionable lunches, won spelling bees, got into fist fights, saved a baby bat, played piano, scrambled to find fifty cents for ice cream, got snacks from the principal’s office, screamed and ran away from the bathroom after trying to say Bloody Mary and Candyman, watched a few basketball games, played the Oregon Trail…and this? This used to be the playground.
The difference stopping by this time was that I wasn’t alone. I had my sister, who attended the school for a time, and her son as well as Allyn with me. I am so glad they were with me. Somehow in those hills, a bright sunny day will still look almost doomsday-like and this day was bright, happy and sunny. We stalked around the outside of the building and my hopes for exploring 3 out of 3 abandoned places in one trip were zero–but Allyn, hero that he is, found an open window. The funniest part of the day was two pregnant women trying to gracefully climb into an abandoned school window with the assistance of a 15 year old.
The hallway for headstart, kindergarten, first and second grade
The gym, which always seemed much bigger
The ‘group’ handwashing fountain. My little hands were washed here thousands of times.
Amanda and I thought this was pretty hilarious.
Thanks for the memories, creepy old friend.