The first long road trip in several years, even though it was work-related, I enjoyed every second of the journey home. The entire way there, I scouted for abandoned houses, buildings, farms, and other interesting sights. I noted them in my phone for the trip home. The first place pictured below is in Wichita, Kansas, called Joyland. It was once a working amusement park, but it’s now obviously closed. Unfortunately, there is a giant fence around the property, and I could see very little of the rides still standing. I think they have already bulldozed most of the rides, so all I could see was the rollercoaster. It has since been demolished.
The house stood surrounded by barbed wire and tangled winter trees, nestled next to the highway, near Salina, Kansas. We had to pull over on the highway. I walked along the road. I stood in the frigid rain, watching quietly, listening to the rhythmic tapping on the sagging roof, wondering how long it had been since memories were created inside the house. I thought of my own children; holding them and watching them grow. A family like mine once lived in this house.
Stories weave together through my mind like patters on intricate quilts; a farmer and his young bride, with four happy children darting behind the trees in the woods. Their family dog trails behind, nipping their heels, with a cat sun-bathing in the window.
“Three things to remember: As long as you’re dancing, you can break the rules. Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules. Sometimes there are no rules.” -Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings
I really wish this house were closer, so I could go back and explore it more thoroughly. The cold rain, traffic, and waiting dogs at home cut my photo sessions short at this point in our drive. Not to mention by this time I had already photographed a hospital, an abandoned school, two other buildings, an abandoned nursing home, and Joyland. I’ll share the Oklahoma pictures in the next article.
The last place on our journey pictured below is an old limestone house outside of Belleville, Kansas. The damp December day turned upside down, into a frigid, miserable evening.
Tall, brittle grasses waved in the breeze, overgrown around the craggy bricks. Empty, cracked windows stare out, hollow, jagged and lonely.
“Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” -Mary Oliver
It floors me when people fail to recognize the beauty in these broken-down places. The deterioration; the splintered wood, the shattered glass, the rusting metal is so much more. It represents the ending of a life; something left behind and long forgotten. I photograph these places to tell their stories. Someone loved there. Someone lost there. Someone laughed there. Someone suffered there. Someone lived there. All of these places, they will not be forgotten. Once I’ve photographed them, I remember them always, and think of them often. They hang in my home. Parts of them haunt my dreams and show up in my stories.
“Love yourself. Then forget it.”
Then, love the world.” -Mary Oliver, Evidence: Poems
Trish Eklund is the owner and creator of Abandoned, Forgotten, & Decayed, and Family Fusion Community, an online resource for blended families of all types. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska, ListVerse, Nature Takes Over and Pocket Abandoned. Check out the new Bonanza Store for AFD merchandise! Follow on Instagram and Facebook. Trish is regularly featured on The Mighty, Huffington Post Divorce, and Her View From Home. She has also been featured on Making Midlife Matter, and The Five Moms, and has an essay in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz.