Maybe it’s because I read a lot of history or as a child I thought that being an archeologist would be the most amazing job ever, but I like ruins. Lots of people like ruins so I know that doesn’t make me unique. The thing that I think may be weird is that I find a lot of comfort in the thought that everything around us will one day also be part of the archeological record and people will be using tiny paintbrushes to dust off our little iPods, tagging them with information on where they were found, and neatly organizing the detritus of our lives in museum stacks. I especially like thinking about this when I’m in suburbia. It all seems so fleeting to me – the big box stores, the massive parking lots, the strip malls. While standing in the middle of a 100 acre parking lot and surveying the huge buildings around you, it can be hard to think that one day this will all be rubble. But every huge civilization thought their way of life would last forever. I find it beautiful to think of nature encroaching on the pavement, grass sprouting up in the cracks, ivy and kudzu taking over the stucco and cinderblock, slowing breaking it down. Thoughts like this make me feel small and insignificant in a happy way. It puts into perspective the things that can cause stress, unease, malice. Thinking about the inevitability of decay is a bit like standing on a hill in the Highlands, or trying to take in the splendor of the Yosemite Valley from Lookout Point – the vastness of the view reduces my frenzied thoughts to a humbler pace, and I am reminded that I am but a very small piece of this wonderful picture – and that’s a feeling I want to hold on to and make a part of my everyday because it puts everything into focus. It makes me want to be kinder, gentler, more loving. Of course, the irony of this is that when I am standing in the middle of a parking lot facing down Target, my thoughts are anything but kind, gentle, and loving. I feel frenzied, stressed, and easily annoyed. And that probably explains why the thought of everything around me being returned to a pastoral Eden makes me happy. So, when I heard about Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s amazing series on the Ruins of Detroit I was intrigued. And then I clicked through their pictures and was charmed. They’ve captured the bridge era between vibrancy and ruin.
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