My home is in the suburbs but where I work is tucked in the middle of the opposite of urban. There’s some farmland, some wooded areas, a large lake, and the kinds of spaces that make up the distance between most small Northeast Georgia towns. Boat storage lots. Used car dealerships. Bait shops. Fruit and veggie stands. Boiled peanuts, trailer parks, Dollar Generals, and Piggly Wigglys.
And lots of back roads.
I learned the joys of back roads long ago. My father drove them, we lived on them sometimes, and exploring them was a reasonable weekend activity in which our family could engage without cost besides the gas. There was no telling what we’d find on our little adventures. The funny part is, I can’t think of any specific story right now, but I remember the feel of going out and just wandering around. My dad has an excellent sense of direction and though we might occasionally become turned around, I doubt we were ever actually lost. I try to pull off the same magic when I go out roaming aimlessly, but I’ll cop to pulling out my phone and using its GPS any number of times to correct my course mid-drive.
I found the little place in the photo above not far off my main route home this evening after I left work. It sits at the end of the pavement where the road forks off unpaved in two directions that are both clearly marked “KEEP OUT” and “NO TRESSPASSING.” Always in ALL CAPS, just so. There’s no way to really tell by looking how long ago the place might have been inhabited but I’d hazard a guess of no less than a decade, maybe two. The sight was transfixing and kind of sad – I always wonder how a home gets left behind to fall into rot like that.
I thought up the title of this post as I was getting back in my truck after I took the photo. I didn’t want to stay there too long and have someone come along and interrogate my motives. The only thing I was there for was the photo but I didn’t go there intending to get the photo; it’s just where I ended up and what I happened to find there.
After I got home, I texted my dad to see if he was okay with me using the phrase “back road connoisseur” to describe him. I had hoped he would see it, as I do, as a compliment. He approved and I sent him the photo. He replied that he and my bonus mom would have scoured the place for treasures once upon a long ago day. I can’t say why that shocked me but it did. I can’t quite imagine plucking up that much courage to roam around the wreckage.
At the same time, I don’t have a valid argument for why I shouldn’t have walked around the discarded remains of the once-upon-a-time home, if I had wanted to or simply felt like it. I wouldn’t have damaged anything and I hardly think anything short of fire would have made a noticeable difference anyway. I'm not keen on arson, so that's a non-issue.
Still can’t imagine leaving the pavement and walking through those tall weeds, though. My heart is pounding just writing about it. Maybe I’ll revisit the place someday and see if I feel like being a rebel then.