My stomping grounds are being leveled. Cranes are tearing buildings apart as I write this.
This one hurts. I’ve had a very strong, very strange connection to this old psychiatric hospital for years. Before I even went to shoot it for the first time, I used to have dreams I was there.
The first time I ever stepped foot on this property, I had instant deja vu. I’d been there before, but I hadn’t. The buildings recognized me. I recognized them. We knew each other, somehow. Like when you go years between seeing a good friend, then fall back into your same comfortable relationship as if no time had passed at all.
Something in this hospital — an energy, a feeling, whatever — attached itself to me over the years. I don’t know why, and I’ll never be able to explain it. Have you ever had a dream about someone who’s always just out of reach? Their face never manifests clearly. They have something to tell you, but they won’t speak. You follow them in and out of rooms, down hallways, but they never address you. You never find out who they are or what they want. There is just a desperate pull, like you’re being called, and you never know exactly how you’re supposed to answer.
That’s what being here, in these hallways, felt like for me. Like the building was alive, and calling me home.
I loved this hospital. I loved the way the doors rattled when it was windy out. I loved the sterile smell of antiseptic in the morgue and how surreal that was contrasted with all the decay. I loved how I would lose time in here, wandering, looking for whatever it was that had attached itself to me, never facing it, but feeling it around every corner. It was almost an addiction.
I never know how fast demolition is going to happen. Sometimes permits are filed, plans are announced, and the years tick by with no action. Other times, it happens too fast to say goodbye. This is one of the latter examples. My playground will become a data center. None of my beautiful buildings preserved or repurposed.
This has been an extra middle finger to me at a time when I’m not feeling well for other reasons. The stubborn double shoulder injury that’s been killing me for over a year morphed into something clearly beyond that. Eventually, it came to light that my pain was not due to an injury after all — it was the onset of chronic illness.
Watching them dismantle my favorite place brick by brick has been an all too fitting analogy for how I’ve felt the past 15 months, emotionally and physically. Like my being is forceably being pulled apart while my loved ones watch from the sidelines.
Eventually, I will learn how to cope with and manage my new situation. The same can’t be said for my dear friend.
I’ll carry a piece of this place with me for the rest of my life. I never found out what it wanted from me, and now I never will. But I hope even when it’s gone for good, it will still visit me in dreams and moments when I miss it most.