Confessions of a Transplant: Show Me Something Built to Last

These ruins are on I-10 somewhere between Columbus and Sealy, Texas. For over three years now, I’ve been fascinated by them. They are right on the frontage road to the highway so I imagine decades ago, before we drove at 70 MPH, they were on the main road between the towns. I’ve always wondered if they are an old motel, the kind with cottages or if they were where itinerant workers lived while the cotton or rice needed harvesting.  There is a Japanse term, idea called ‘wabi-sabi’.

Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all.

The land all around these shacks is flat. Born and bred in the northeast, flat fascinates me with a sense of underlying dread. Flat is hot in the car (or out in the direct sun). Flat has few trees if any. The thing that I find oddly wondrous is here, in Texas, it just keeps on being flat. The memory of my body expects the flat to end and for shade trees to reach across roads.

In the northeast we have stone-walls which mark where lives and the work of those lives. Here I find ruins which will be dust or dragged down in the name of progress.

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