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  • Writer's pictured. i. richardson

14 Forgotten Place Drive, Anywhere, USA

Maybe you've seen the others post I've written about bygone muses and forsworn friendships, but this one is not about people. This one is about places, venues, settings, and locales. It's about hiraeth and longing for places both real and imaginary.

In life, we will visit millions of places; some of them will be our homes, some will be the homes of our friends, and some will be schools we used to attend. Some places we visit will only be visited in our dreams, and some will only be visited in our imagination, an idea that we never wrote down. Let's talk about them.

Over my life, I've had my fair share of moves. I've moved with family, away from family, back in with family, and then away again. What each of them seemed to have in common is that we left a home and would never return to it. These places house memories that I will never get to relive within their confines, not legally anyway. The home I spent 14 years living in was sold off to strangers. I'll never walk the stairs I used to walk every day before going to school. We'll never build snowmen in the backyard again. Or make burgers in the summer in the old BBQ. We'll never pluck pears from the old pear tree in the fall. None of it. The house remains lived in and loved, but the memories will fade.

Even my brief moves leave a lasting taste of longing in my mouth. Every place I used to call home has become a ghostly apparition in my head. I can remember the warped wooden floors and popcorn ceilings. The worn out carpets, the rusty mailbox that we never got around to replacing, and the broken lock on the bathroom door. I remember walking home after school, sliding my key into a lock, and being awash in the smell of home. The door remains locked for me now, firmly shut forever.

In a similar turn, the same feelings begin to apply to the homes of friends long since gone. I've moved on from a lot of friends in my life, some a lot closer than others. Some whose homes became second homes for me.

I still remember the old phone booth in the basement where we could prank call people, the air hockey table we would set up and play Battle B-Daman on top, and the old TV where we would play NHL 2K6 for hours. The home of a friend where I would spend my summers playing Call of Duty and getting into trouble wherever we could find it. The house of an ex-girlfriend where I spent every day after school for a year watching her nephew with her.

These are places that have become nothing but memories to me. These are places that they have sold and moved on from, and none of us will return to them. While I wish we could visit them again, they come in fleeting waves of nostalgic nausea.

Then comes the old schools where I learned oh so many things (useful and otherwise). I've gone to two elementary schools and two high schools in my life. The first three schools I ever attended were all shut down. Let's discuss.

My first school was 100+ years old. A two-floor ancient building with its gym in the basement. I remember enough of this school despite leaving it when I was six. I made my first ever friends at this school. Had my first "kiss" with a girl, ooo, can you even call it that? I remember playing pogs on the schoolyard and playing Beyblade in the little plastic bowl stadium. I was in a play there too, I think, and I'm pretty sure I cried about it. But I still remember the hallways and stairwells, the classrooms I was in, and the dog that used to run up to the fence backing against the schoolyard to say hello to all the children playing.

Then we went to my second elementary school where I met some of my decades-long friends and spent grades 2–8 there. Years after I left, the school was closed. The site has since been demolished, so it really does now exist only in the memories of myself and the other former students. It's a weird experience to see old pictures of the school knowing it no longer exists, especially because I spent so many days inside its walls. It's a weird feeling, that's for sure.

The same thing happened to my first high school. I spent one year there and forged a whole new batch of friendships. The school closed that same year, and we were moved to a secondary school. The first school, though, has been demolished since, and the land is being turned into more cookie-cutter houses. It's very sad that there will never be another reunion held there for anyone. Though we only spent a year there, it's still a special time in my life, and I look back pretty fondly on that year.

Perhaps this one exists only for writers, maybe poets too, but it's an imaginary place of our own creation. Specifically, those we visit once within an idea, convince ourselves that we will remember it, don't write it down, and then forget the idea altogether. These places exist in our minds for a brief moment, engrossing us in splendor. We simply cannot wait to write all about this story, this world, but because we didn't make a note or write the details down, the idea escapes our mind and vanishes back into the depths. Some of these ideas may come back, but many never do. They are places we will never imagine again. A place we never even spoke of. One nobody else knows or knew of. Just for us, and then it fades back to nothingness.

Finally, one that we can all share is a dream. I have dreamt of countless bizarre places that I have yet to return to. A snow-coated forest in a snow globe, a rundown restaurant on the side of a desolate highway, and a doomsday bunker, to name a few. These places range from realistic to downright absurd. I'm sure we've all had those dreams. These places exist in a weird semi-liminal state of consciousness that we often forget upon waking. And even those we remember, we never seem to return to (unless they are recurring dreams themselves).

Dreams are a weird, weird realm for me, especially talking about nostalgic feelings like I've mentioned with homes and schools, but I think it's still valid. I often feel a strong sense of nostalgia for those liminal space slideshows because so many of those places resemble vague places that were in my childhood and would have influenced countless dreams as well. Our dreams are often reflections of ourselves and our experiences, so it's not surprising that these "places you feel like you've been to before" slideshows resonate with so many of us. That haunting familiarity of the unfamiliar and the surreal feeling of being lost in a dream are probably caused by these haunting places to which we will never return.

Anyway, thank you for diving into the last of this little trilogy of posts. Muses, friends, and places. Three aspects that makes us, I suppose. Thanks for reading.

as always, have a good wander!

love y'all,


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