one of the things i did this past weekend was wander around a couple of abandoned buildings on the grounds of the Cherokee Mental Health Institute. it had been a very long while since i had satisfied any sort of morbid curiosity, so this was actually a rather conflictive thing for me, internally. something my adoptive parents probably never knew about me was my fascination with abandoned buildings as well as new construction sites: the places i actually went when i skipped out at night. the inherent disparity between such things forms its own gravity, so they sit in the same place in my head. i love the way my brain pushes and pulls me in places like this. visiting here this past Sunday conjured many old memories that hadn’t surfaced in decades, all while making some new ones. it was a heady end to a very nice weekend.
this is the lobby of the old Donohoe building. some topological research online suggests that this was a prison building, which is somewhat substantiated by the thick-grilled, small-paned windows around the exterior. i deliberately captured the small fireplace in the lobby with the lens tilted off the dirty glass to include the early-afternoon reflection of the pillars and trees outside: a mix of the dismal, dark, decaying interior, and the taunting promise of a freedom just out of reach. there was no way not to wonder about the people who had been in and out of there: what caused them to be there, what they experienced, what they did.
i would love/hate to actually tour the interiors and the tunnels between these buildings. their histories, especially apparently from the 1960’s and 70’s, infer violences left seething, sorrows left mourning, and the conflicted fears of being released and being left behind. but when i visit these places where so many dreams have died, i am reminded of the relative ease of my own life, even when the moments are rough and the nights are long and broken and void; so my transient love of life returns for a while, and i am whole again.