Public Media for Central Pennsylvania
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

This I Believe: I Believe In Abandoned Buildings

Essayist Christina Baker

I believe in abandoned buildings.

The first thing you need to know about me is that I am a terrible driver. If I drive past something that I think is interesting, I will turn my eyes away from the road and look at that thing for a potentially dangerous amount of time. I'll be like, “Oo, look at that field!” Or, “Oo, look at that sunset!” And passengers in the car will be like, “No, look at the road!” And eventually I will, but I will always look at an old abandoned building.

I'm not sure exactly what about dilapidated buildings intrigues me. Maybe it's tactile, when I look at one I can't help but imagine walking on the soft, creaky floorboards while looking up at the exposed rafters as sunlight rushes in through the dusty windows. As I walk, I inhale the air that feels uniquely musty, yet safe. I trust it like I'm breathing in an old familiar book.

Maybe the thing I love about old buildings is that they have so much history. You know that something has happened there, perhaps so many somethings that you could spend years learning about the building and still not know everything about it. The comfort that you are far from the first person to be in this building, the promise that so many people have been there before you that you can't possibly be alone. Or maybe the reason I believe in abandoned buildings is their potential. They're so old. They're the product of human willpower and they've been on this earth for so much longer than you or I. They have been through so much and they're still there. They're almost more beautiful for it.

An overarching principle of my outlook on life is that everything is going to pass. When I'm having a difficult time or I'm dealing with a lot, when things are sinking or spiraling and it just won't stop, when it all starts to feel like too much to bear— I know that everything is going to be okay. It's not going to be okay now, and not soon, it's not even going to be okay for most of the time in the future. But, if I let the moment pass, I'm going to be alright.

My favorite thing about abandoned buildings is that they are there. They've made it so far. Someone put in the work and it paid off. abandoned buildings are a promise, whether you're a warehouse from the 70s, or the Coliseum, whether you have historical significance, or you're an old office building for a bankrupt company, whether you're remarkably well preserved, or you're just barely keeping it together—if you can just survive all the weather and the conflict and the cosmic events, you're going to be okay.

I believe in abandoned buildings.

Christina Baker is a freshman at Penn State double majoring in journalism and political science. She is also a reporter at the Daily Collegian.