I have always been fascinated by the past and old structures around me. Remember the time that I found a cabin in the woods filled with cages? And a gas tank full of water? Well, probably not. I did that when I was in college, and very few people follow me now from back then. But I did a popular local story at the time that earned me an honorary award from the Chicago Tribune at the time.
I recently read a book by David Morrell. I love Morrell's work because I love every book from him that I read. Sometimes I have my doubts, but he always wins me over. Each and every time. The book is called CREEPERS, and it lives in my heart like very few other books do.
There is a reporter with a mysterious past who hooks up with a group of urban explorers to infiltrate a fancy hotel that has been locked down for decades to see what still remains inside. And they may not be alone. It's a great thriller. One of Morrell's finest achievements. I love it so much. But it speaks to me specifically because I love history. I want to know more about the past of my area. If such a hotel existed around me, I would want to see the secrets it holds. And I would take only pictures, leave only footprints. I respect the way of the urban explorer.
I work in the Loop. There is a lot of infrastructure below my feet every day I go to work, and I would love to see it all. I want to see the maze of a walkway from building to building, even though the government mostly owns the walkway now, probably to protect important people as they move to and fro in Chicago. The same for the private owners of the space below the skyscrapers they own.
If you want to know more about what is under the Loop, you should read this. It's awesome, and it makes me want to explore the sealed off tunnels below the streets I walk on to get to work everyday. The infographic alone is worth clicking that link.
But forget that for a moment.
When I was a kid my dad and first stepmother had me for the weekend. We went to a water park that is ten minutes from were I live now. I hated it. I hate water slides and being submerged under water for whatever reasons.
Shortly after I was there the water park closed down. It's still there. No one ever tore it down. They just abandoned it. But it's still there.
For years I've kept this in the back of my head for a setting I want to write about. But after reading CREEPERS I want to visit this place. I want to see what it looks like now. I want to bask in the glory of the past.
I know how attentive Mr. Morrell is to his research. I feel with a great deal of certainty that he went urban exploring for research. He just can't say it for legal reasons, as urban exploring is technically a crime. This knowledge makes me want to become an urban explorer. The past turns me on. I want to see living examples.
I want to see what this water park looks like now. I can see the infrastructure that I remember as a child riddled with plants and trees and broken pools and more. A forgotten piece of history waiting to be discovered before some corporation tears it down to build something else.
Some of you may recognize my pattern. My theme. The past is never as far behind us as we imagine. There are still remnants barely holding on. All we have to do is find them and embrace them.
Reach back. Hold on. Love. Understand.