i took a day off from work today. and i didn't have anything planned. so i just started walking.
as i was walking, i came along a bridge. near the middle of the bridge were two extended platforms, one on each side. someone had written on the metal guard rail on the south side. "strenth is yunity."
the bridge took me to the old skate park. i hadn't even been there on skates. i found it once before on a previous adventure and kept it in mind.
the path ran through a graffiti-smothered underpass to a stretch of asphalt below road level. the park was a hole to everything around it, spray paint on the ground since abandoned and blackened over. grind rails and stages worn by weather alone. fall leaves gliding and stumbling over them, their tricks lame and clunky at best. some man was wanding a metal detector at the ground. the site is very near florian's market, where a man was stabbed to death in june 2008. this place seems to have forgotten.
running along the side of the skate park is a mounded wall separating the park from a further drop off into river water. set atop this mound is a stretch of the remains of the grand trunk railway.
the grand trunk railway was active from 1852 - 1923, and it's main north american line connected portland, maine to montréal, quebec; where the continental operations were headquartered. the line then continued west to sarnia, ontario and connected with western canadian subsidiary lines. by 1880, the line also reached deep into midwestern american territory, stretching from portland to chicago, which was a major traffic hub at the time. in 1910, another atlantic line had begun construction to providence, rhode island, however, construction came to a halt when president charles melville hays was killed in the sinking of the titanic in 1912. poor management led to the railway eventually going bankrupt in 1923 and being nationalized by the canadian government. traffic continued to decline as new, more direct railways were built. the last train to hit the lewiston station was in 1956.
this piece of track pointed west/southwest of the station, likely the first stretch on its way to chicago. it set atop a mound of dirt too fragile to support a train, both ends disappearing into the earth. tracks that once knew exactly where they were going, and never moved, now lost.
i left the park, found my car, and took a few roads eastward until i found the bird sanctuary.
within the bird sanctuary are several paths and primitive monuments. although built in recent years, the technique, materials and weathering harkened to a much more ancient history. perhaps colonial. perhaps medieval.
the bird sanctuary's yellow trail ran straight up the middle of the land. i took the red and orange trails through the western half and approached the miller fireplace from the back.
the fire pit yawned with a disturbing serenity. stone benches circled on the decline nearby just before the ground tumbled to an unwalkable steepness. it felt like trespassing.
taking the yellow trail back to the gate, i found anthony's fireplace. though made roughly with the same materials, this felt far more ceremonial and distinguished. two older women were seated on the bench facing the fireplace in silence, gathering their thoughts. i passed the monument and continued walking without filming to avoid disrupting them. as i continued on the trail, i heard them begin to walk. i stopped and played with my phone until they passed me, then turned and approached anthony's fireplace alone.
four curved stone benches mounted in a circular shape, the center of one bench containing the fire pit and chimney that comprised anthony's fireplace. it resembled one of sherman's sentinels from the civil war era; jagged uneven stones burnt on the undersides and sun bleached on the top. a year was etched into the base of one of the benches.
it felt too recent to make sense. i wondered which one of us had seen more in those 18 years.
i came out of the bird sanctuary planning to return home, until i realized i wasn't far from the street where i had spent the first 8 years of my life.
this was once a tightly packed trailer park filled with a dozen or so families built next to a horse racing track, where the summer carnival was held every year. we left the park in 1992, and it was destroyed shortly thereafter due to infestation from rats. the race track had since been converted into a business complex, but the side street was simply ignored. rubble from the various foundations still left in piles, and recent trash from strangers looking for a hideout or a dumping ground was sprinkled in random locations. it looks so small now. i can't even distinguish the one tree we had in our tiny yard from the rest that grew in around it. it wasn't home anymore.
i remember at one point having a race with my brothers and nephew on the street. so i ran again.
we tell our stories to the world around us. walls that are tagged or scribbled on, without pay or permission, constructs built or broken and left in solitude. these stories are personal. these are stories told directly to the earth and left for the earth to tell them back. as time goes by, each story is infused with the same moral of impermanence, reminding us that our past is dead and no longer ours, eating away at the very stories entrusted to it. stories like these are the fading of who we once were. stories from the ruins of a rat town.