The Long Way Home


From Nowhere
February 11, 2014, 8:49 PM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , , ,
Sunburst, McKees Rocks.

Sunburst, McKees Rocks.

Recently at a party, I chatted briefly with a woman who coincidentally grew up in a town near the one I’m from. Coraopolis..which high school? I shook my head, for some reason apologetic that I went to a tiny high school that nobody ever heard of, feeling the old, familiar tug in my chest that I spent years trying to shake: trying to explain Nowhere to people who are from Somewhere. I spent my adolescence dreaming of escape, and most of my twenties and thirties trying to find ways to get the hell out of nowhere and off to somewhere, figuring once I arrived, I’d have it figured out. But somewhere along the way, I slowed down, paid attention, looked around, admitted: I like coming from nowhere. I like finding other places in the middle of nowhere, and documenting them for others to see, so that they too can go nowhere and see lives lived beyond all the places in the world that everyone typically wants to be. I love driving to different parts of the city and walking streets I thought I knew. I love being the passenger along roads I know with eyes shut, identifying them by their twists and turns. I love driving along Island Avenue, the road to Coraopolis through McKees Rocks – the route that I’d take to visit my mother. I know this road by the way the light dappled across row houses in late morning, and by the dark, black clouds that shook out a rainstorm one frightening summer afternoon, causing a flash flood. I know the view from the McKees Rocks Bridge, the way the sunset bounces off the gold dome of the Orthodox church in the Bottoms – it always leaves me lighthearted, happy, even – a beacon of hope after my mother died. And one late morning on our way somewhere, Jeff and I finally did stop the car so  I could take these photos, because the October light was too beautiful for me to resist. It’s strange to look back at more ordinary moments like these, not knowing the cold, endless winter awaiting us, the creative ways we’ve spent our time as we push towards spring.

Apartment building, early 1900s, McKees Rocks.

Apartment building, early 1900s, McKees Rocks.

Found next to Pierogies Plus.

Found next to Pierogies Plus.

Vacancy.

Vacancy.

Forest-like alley.

Forest-like alley.

Early morning, another time.

Early morning, another time.

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18 Comments so far
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thanks from those of us who like very much to go nowhere and find it fascinating and mysterious–right under one’s nose! Very poetic prose which fits the photos so well–is there really a vacancy there? Just wondering if that is a fire escape on the McKees Rocks apartment building. So glad the view from the bridge makes you happy.

Comment by Michael Williamson

The row houses are definitely unoccupied, and have been for years. It’s amazing they are still standing all these years – I think at least 20! I can’t believe it’s been that long. It is a fire escape on the apartment building – a real beauty. I don’t see many of those around the city.

Comment by Lisa

It’s means a lot that we explore these roads together.

Comment by Jeff

It’s means a lot that you travel them with me.

Comment by Lisa

Love me some Pierogies Plus! Used to do pick-up there when I worked in Kennedy Township; bunch of characters! It was also featured by Andrew Zimmern on his show. Some of the hardest-working people come from the hardest neighborhoods, so I love Bellevue, McKees Rocks, Cory and the like, for that very reason. I’ll always be a Cory girl!

Comment by anonymom

I’m in love with that place – it’s too bad though one has to wake at 2 am to get some before they sell out :).

Comment by Lisa

“Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it”

(Flannery O’Connor)

Sometimes… (…smiling..)

Comment by karijeppesen

Kari – You always find the best quotes for photography! Flannery is one of my favorites, I love this one.

Comment by Lisa

I had a feeling that you would like it… (…smiling and smiling for you…)

Comment by karijeppesen

:)

Comment by Lisa

Escaping makes sense. Returning is sometimes such a weirdly unnatural yet organic experience. Your words/photos speak volumes.

Comment by motherblue212

It is. It’s strange each time I poke around the old stomping grounds because I feel as if I never really knew it – only my child-self knew it. Experiencing it as an adult is comforting, with a twinge of sadness. Thanks for your support, lady, always. x

Comment by Lisa

Nowhere Man needs re-written. Great post!

Comment by Bill

thanks, dude, that’s sweet!

Comment by Lisa

Pierogies plus…what? Beer? What else do you need? And isn’t pierogi already plural? I love a restaurant whose name becomes a quiz.

Comment by greg

You’ll love this too: Pierogies Plus is housed in what looks like an old gas station – not even to be hip, but simply because this was the most convenient building to house them in (they’ve been there for years). So all these years of living nowhere and I had no idea “pierogi” was already plural, hehe! Now I love it even more.

Comment by Lisa

A gas station…seriously, I can’t imagine any news I’ll hear today will make me smile more than this. It’s like the Pennsylvania version of Southern Gothic.

Comment by greg

It is! I think you would love Pittsburgh and all its twisty, windy, broken roads filled with piergies (and beer. Much, much beer).

Comment by Lisa




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