bleak building revisited

by Elouise

Who would have guessed this photo and my haiku would lead to bigtime self-reflection? For those who missed it, here’s the haiku–a comment on the photo above.

massive bleak building
harbors untold histories –
I quicken my pace

From the day I laid eyes on the photo, it freaked me out. I didn’t want to look at it; yet I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

It wasn’t just the building’s condition, it was its size. Looking at it, I felt small and helpless, as though I’d wandered into a nightmare that was closing in on me.

Yet the more I looked at the building, the less afraid I was. I noticed renovations on the adjoining building, clotheslines, and a carpet hanging over the balcony rail. Also how close neighbors were to each other.

When I wrote the last line of the haiku I wasn’t sure what I meant. Was I speeding up to get past the building, or was I quickening my pace to get closer? Perhaps to discover clues about the families who lived there, and what happened to bring about massive abandonment of these apartments.

I don’t have answers to any of that. Nor do I know in what city or country this bleak building stands. I do, however, know I’m drawn to it, especially at this time of my life.

These days I’m thinking about end of life issues. Not because I have a terminal disease, but because I’m terminal as the woman I now am. Figuratively as well as literally.

I don’t want to keep mopping up the now defunct quarters passed on to me by my parents and their parents. Especially quarters that served to reinforce ways I was shamed and blamed a thousand times over.

No way.

Yet some of this is still housed in my female body, soul and emotions. No, it doesn’t torment me now the way it did in the past. It does, however, come back to haunt me from time to time. Seeping up through the cracks. A looming presence that erupts when I freak out—as I fall over the cliff yet again into panic, anxiety, and the urge to fight back against anyone and everything.

I’ve spent years identifying and letting go of pieces of my past and my desire to change it. It’s been a life-changing reclamation project. A project that began in my childhood, despite what was beaten into me in a misguided effort to beat things out of me.

What would it be like to live as though that never happened? I’ll never know. Not in this life.

I do, however, know there were and are things no one can ever beat out of me. Things I love. Things that make me happy. Things that bring me joy and peace. Things that connect me to my Creator and to my family and neighbors. Things no one can beat out of me no matter how diligently or brutally they try.

I also know there are gems in that old building. They’re waiting for me to discover and own them. Treasures I don’t yet know belong to me. Parts of life envisioned for me by my Creator who knows and longs to give me my true name.

So yes, I’m quickening my pace as I move forward into unexplored territory and beyond.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 March 2017
Photo found at
WordPress Daily Prompt: Massive