There were horse ranches of immense size all around us. I never would've guessed crop farming and animal husbandry would be such a big theme outside of upstate New York. Small side roads cut in between the agricultural masses. Curvy and cracked, we manuevered our way to the designated coordinates on the GPS. We affectionately call her "Karen". At times Karen tells us to, "....get out of your vehicle and finish walking to your destinaton". That's either a really good or really bad thing to hear. Dependent upon which kind of adventure we're having of course.
This morning isn't one of those adventures.
I've got very little information to go on. An online website, two addresses and some input from Eric was about all I needed to deem it worthy of at least, an attempt.
The last driveway at the top of the hill was where we needed to park. I am sweating bullets inside. No matter how skilled you are at small talk; convincing strangers ~that do not know you're arriving, to share personal information with you, is a bit intimidating.
I will start with what I know best, "I am Sam." Eric convinces me that exactly that will be enough. We turn the jeep off and head for the door.
At one time I think someone loved the property. There is evidence all around of gardening and typical miscellenous home projects left unfinished. Bird feeders hang sideways from willow trees. All appear empty. A wood splitter hiding under blue tarps, ripped and frayed. Such a cute little home, drenched in abandon. After the initial walk up nerves, I finally settle into my skin after no-one answered the door. Eric, a bit more cautious, advices me to get out of the windows.
Still, he asks what I see inside. It looks as if someone had vacated the place back in 1980. There are shades of brown on everything. The floor, the couch, the wallpaper. It's all super retro. "This" would be the perfect house for a single cat lady.
Interestly enough though, that's the exact opposite of what I am looking for. I am seeking an aged man. Big stature and about 60 years of age. His parents were immigrants from Poland. I had found the records from Ellis Island. An attribute only rare names can offer.
I traveled a long ways to find an abondoned house with a "bird sanctuary" surronding it. Adjusting from the varying levels of anxiety and curiousties, we both plop a spot on the steps of the failed house. There's something okay about taking this break. Maybe while we sit someone will come along and claim the property. At this point I'd even take a tresspassing risk to get another lead. Stubbornly defeated, I rise to make my departure. I feel somewhat at a loss. Eric again- ever so clever, has a last ditch attempt to make sure someone knows we were here and what we are looking for. Even though we don't know who will find our note of desperation, I attach it to the squeeky front door. Head down, I take a big breath and clear my mind for the next address on my list.
This time we are looking for a woman. I have no idea what she looks like, nor how old she should be. I have only a name...which indicates to me that she is married and a news article about events in the area that she lived in. The drive is not far. Maybe 20 minutes from our current location. We are coming down from horse land into what appears to be a more developed area. Churches stand ornate and strong, on many of the street corners. I wonder if this is how everyone feels when they're searching for something.
An unexpected sadness creeps in.
I do not know these places. I have never been to this state.
But, it feels as if I've missed them.
People would say that you can never miss that which you never knew. I disagree. With enough subconcoius proof now to back my beliefs up, I will find everything that's been buried here. In college once a professor told me that, "...a lie stuck to, is as good as any truth." Getting to this point has been like seperating salt from ocean water. I believe that as long as you're in control of the lies, you can shape them into whatver you like. But, it takes only one other person to unbind it all. Human error can be vile and atrocious. At the right time however, this will lead to something beautiful and tragic. This time the stories are me.