What is it that draws us to abandoned and broken places? Is it simply just because they are different from the everyday, or do they cause interesting questions in the mind of the viewer, or is there something within us that feels a kinship with its lonely and broken appearance. Perhaps all three.
It wasn’t a good weekend last weekend. My computer of six years took a sudden and irrepairable nosedive on Saturday. On Sunday, my car started hesitating while shifting gears and my check engine light came on. The fun continued yesterday, which started with me in the dealership, went on to work, where everyone else was also having a bad day, and finished off with me dropping my B&H catalog in the toilet (don’t ask). My brother-in-law posted something on Facebook about having a horrible day as well.
You never wish a bad day on anyone, but it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone.
11-15 Fuel Stop, Liverpool, PA
A few months ago, I stopped by an old gas station along US 11 and 15. It’s been closed for as long as I’ve been driving along that stretch of road, but its hand-painted sign along the top has always intrigued me. I finally had the time this trip through so I pulled off, and for the first time, I took a good long look at it. Pretty desolate outside, but inside was a scene from one of those abandoned places urban spelunkers all flock to:
I began to think of this place yesterday, when I was going through my set of circumstantial turmoil. I thought of every dark, depressing place a person can come up with. And it just didn’t ring true. Turmoil hits us all, sooner or later, as does depression. But they’re not the same thing. Turmoil happens, conflicts happen, but if you handle them the right way, you learn and grow. Depression is its own thing, and turmoil just prolongs it.
Depression is the above picture, a spreading disease. Turmoil can look rough, but it’s alive, active, still hopeful for a chance. And turmoil, once conquered, becomes one of your greatest allies.
I look at these pictures of the 11-15 Fuel Stop and think about how unusual it is. I think about what must have happened here to make it look like this. But mostly, I think of what has been overcome. I have been here and I have moved on. May we all have turmoil and work through it. And as the great philosopher Kelly Clarkson says, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”