Come Again Soon

If only it could talk. If only their stories were written on the walls by those who told them in the present tense. If you look just beyond the tall grass and the trees, or the boarded up windows, you can still see the life of many. Hard work and maybe a not-so-easy life, but hopefully a happiness, the kind we wish for everyone, to be the storyline. Get up every day and make sure chores were done, kids to school, and off to your job all the while worrying about the bills and the news of the times and thinking – no wishing – for time to slow down. You know, just like we do now.

Somewhere in a box, pictures tell the real story. Brown and ivory now instead of black and white, history was made before it was history, with every flash of the bulb

For every abandoned house, business or town for that matter, there are many chapters between the hard broken backs of those who built them. So busy living every day, focusing on the small and meaningless, and wandering through their lives. Pictures and family-time were priceless. As front doors were closed for the very last time, with a final look over the shoulder, another chapter of their life was started. Somewhere in a box, pictures tell the real story. Brown and ivory now instead of black and white, history was made before it was history, with every flash of the bulb.

So here we stand on the edge of a gravel road, our high tech camera or phone in our hand, thinking of the light and angle to capture what is impossible to see. The laughter and tears, the birthday celebrations and the celebrations of life. The wins and losses and the hidden demons that some families hide that needed to be overcome. Let’s face it, life at any stage can have some dark places that the warm glow seen from the street won’t shine upon. But yet we make the best of what we have.

Even as the proprietor spun the Closed – come again soon sign around of his business in decline – or for other reasons known only to those at the coffee shop – he felt the weight of his family and a community upon his shoulders that seemed heavier than the day before. But we know this new chapter brings the high that always comes after a low. We’ll make it. Somehow we always do.

At no point have I stood at my front room window looking out at the road wondering if somewhere into the future there will be an interested photographer looking at the proper light and angle of the broken glass and naked wood of this house long left alone, and a roof, tired and weak from holding perfectly still waiting for the picture to be taken. But I have witnessed a few local businesses, once thriving, with a bell hanging above the door, close. A place where folks would catch up on the latest, spend a little money, and come back soon. Silent now, but the appreciation lives on for those who dedicated their time serving their neighbors. Maybe, we should let them know this before the bell over their shop door stops ringing.

But not all lost and abandoned stories ended in despair. Folks are usually looking for a better life and those hard decisions made at the dinner table resulted in a move, be it figuratively or literally, to do just that. Move up, move out, expand or take a chance can be scary, but we’re willing to do it because in the end we believe in us. The remnants of what is left behind can be seen from the gravel road or from the curb on Main.

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