Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: impossible project, mckees rocks, ohio river, px680, rust belt diary
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.
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