“New” doesn’t really appeal to me. I just don’t feel like new things have as much character as old. I’m not sure why that is. It seems to me that new is more streamlined, cleaner, and has fewer imperfections. Things of days past had more imperfections, but were more unique. The same is true if we’re talking about houses or cars or furniture or books or clothes.
I love thrift stores and vintage shops, jumbled with old things. Maybe it reminds me of my grandparents; I practically grew up in flea markets, surrounded by treasures mixed with junk. I learned to appreciate the broken and the discarded, and for some reason, I find it beautiful.
In the same way, I love abandoned places. They’re like little secrets, even if they’re accessible to everyone. I sometimes think that they whisper things only a few of us can hear. The reason that new places don’t talk is that they don’t have any stories to tell; they’re like young people who’ve only experienced a tiny slice of life. Old and abandoned places and things have stories behind them, and sometimes have secrets.
On a recent trip to Mystery Castle in Phoenix, I looked around at old bottles, discarded bricks, glass pans, and other odds ‘n ends used as decor, and realized that the name “Mystery Castle” is appropriate in that the tour guides take groups around and tell the story of the place, but the walls whisper that the “stories” make up only a little bit of what the place has to tell. It’s not abandoned; no one lives there, but tour groups go through from September to May (when it’s not hot enough to kill you… there’s no central air). Even though it’s not abandoned, it’s like an older lady whose relatives visit only out of obligation, and when everyone is gone late at night, she sits alone with her memories.
If you hear the whispers of old things, then all this will make sense to you. And if you don’t hear them, try to sit quietly one day and listen. Maybe you’ll hear a whisper too.