Okay. I’m still obsessing. (see previous post) It’s 4AM. My brain is balled up in a fist and I can’t get it to relax.

This weekend Michael and I drove to Indiana University which is not in Indiana, it’s in PA. We went to Dr. Lynn Alvine’s birthday party — which was lovely. Had a great dinner then breakfast and drove home. We traveled mostly state routes rather than the interstate, taking us through Youngstown. At one point we drove through just the kind of neighborhood that freeways were designed to help us fly over. Boarded up businesses, vacant homes drooling gutters with windows broken out and curtains flapping in the icy winds. Peeling paint and broken steps, trash for lawns and doors hanging loose — each a metaphor for what once was secure and now has become unhinged.

This neighborhood is not unique to Youngstown, you can find one painfully like it in any major city, although the departure of jobs has hit NE Ohio hard in the bread basket.

How easily we overlook this evidence of our society’s despair and accept it as part of the urban landscape. Abandoned buildings unclaimed by anything natural — even the ground doesn’t want them back. We drive by them on our way to the theater, passing by on our way to share dinners with friends. We look at their gape-toothed facades and hope the buildings are uninhabited, when we think about them at all. Mostly, we just slide past or more frequently fly over.

I am left tonight with the vision of those curtains flapping in surrender and wondering how we can possibly accept the presence of these places as part of us. And hoping (hoping) on this single digit night that all those structures are indeed uninhabited as I unclench and crawl into my warm bed.

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