Sunday, October 23, 2016
the schoolhouse at the crossroads
I drive a lot. Ever since I got my license last February, I've been driving everywhere and it was kind of absurd at first, but now it's completely normal. Driving is one of my most favorite things to do, believe it or not. That's what Emma does; she drives.
Emma also has a tendency to get lost.
Not lost-lost, as in I don't know where I'm going, but lost as in I don't know where I am, exactly, in relation to anything else in the world. These situations seem to happen increasingly often. The first being on my birthday, when my mom and sister and I took an alternate route home to look at some different scenery and somehow ended up at something called the Little Bone Run Cemetery (and if that doesn't freak you out, you obviously haven't seen it). Then there was the time we were driving with my friend Naomi and Sadie told me to take a wrong turn like she sometimes does, and we ended up on a dirt road in some kind of Amish heaven. (That was beautiful.) Then there was yesterday....but let me back up and tell the beginning of the story.
Sadie and I were playing for a wedding. That is, she played in a trio and I sang a song, half a song really, and spent the rest of the ceremony sitting there awkwardly spying on people...ahem. The bride was from an old blue-blooded family and the wedding was held in their barn at their home on the top of a hill in a nearby farming town. (I may mention that this family is the most aesthetically pleasing and obviously wealthy I have ever come across in my travels across our county.) There's something strange about being a fly on the wall at the wedding of somebody you don't even know...actually there's a lot of things strange about it, or maybe I'm just strange? It's extremely interesting, but at the same time you feel like you shouldn't be there. Anyway, The Wedding was beautiful. Still, Sadie and I were glad to get out of there once our job was done, and we hustled back to our car breathing sighs of relief.
Their home is on a dirt road. The other half loomed ahead, unexplored. "Want to see where this ends up?" Sadie said.
What did I tell you? We're really good at getting lost.
We followed the road, over hill and dale, what looked like it must be the very top of the world, and I almost hit a dog, and that was scary, and we went down the hill, and came to a crossroads, and here's what we found:
Hudson Corners School -- est. 1857
We drove by and I stopped the car, backed up, and opened the door to get out. "I'm taking a picture," I said.
It's a tiny white building on the corner where two dirt roads cross each other, nestled in a gathering of trees, with piles of assorted junk and a dilapidated tractor loitering off to the side. The outside is half painted, somebody must have started it and then given up.
This little guy has been sitting here a long time. 1857 -- he's seen the start of the Civil War and he's seen the end of it. He's seen this part of the state go from no man's land to a place on the map, even if it's just a tiny dot. He's probably seen dozens of school children tumble though his door, stomp snow off their boots, sit down at their desks to learn their lessons while a long-skirted, high-collared teacher writes spelling words in cursive on the blackboard. I'll bet you he;s seen many a school picnic on his lawn and maybe even a few lovers' trysts in the trees behind. And when the school closed someone probably lived in him for awhile, until they threw in the towel and left before they got the painting done.
Have you ever seen an old building and instantly felt transported back to some other place in time?
I wish those walls could talk so they could tell me all they've seen and lived through in 159 years, and I wish I could write it into a story. I think, in a way, houses do talk. Don't they? Aren't they like people? Don't they have personalities of their own?
Maybe the schoolhouse could have told me something, if I'd stayed and been brave enough to go try the door...though when you've read as many Nancy Drew books as I have that's kind of a scary though. But I couldn't stick around. I had to get home. So I settled for a picture, got back in the car, and we drove off, and that schoolhouse is going to keep on sitting there waiting for the next person to come along.
I thought it was neat. I intend to write a story about it someday. :-)
P.S. We did make it home, by the way.