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landscape nature home

a soviet military base in zerbst, a small town in east germany’s sachsen-anhalt. my home of five years and one of the places where i grew up. happy times. mostly. we came there when i was in third grade. everything was so new, so different. i liked it there. for two or three years after we moved out of germany and went to live in russia, i was in a state of denial. lived in a cocoon refusing to accept the reality, which was that we were never going back…
 
i visited eighteen years later. the base had been abandoned for all those years. the germans have yet to figure out what to do with it, i suppose. i came in january. it had snowed non-stop for a week already and the drive from berlin proved to be a slight adventure. of course, the irony was that it barely ever snowed when i lived there. a little bit like a fairytale where you have to push over obstacles along your way.
 
what i saw made me feel uneasy. marauded buildings with gaping windows of broken glass, no railings inside. i managed to climb onto the porch at one of the entrances to my building and went inside to see my apartment. it felt eery. there were all kinds of sounds as if something was moving through the building slamming doors, tapping on the raw concrete. the only thing missing was evil giggles. i don’t know whether it was the wind or the fact that i was in the middle of snowed-up nowhere or both but it did freak me out. i went upstairs to take a few photos of what became of our old apartment and then retreated quickly.
 
i had been anticipating that moment for years, imagined what i would feel, how excited i would be… i shouldn’t have. when it came to the real thing i found myself trying to be emotional but somehow it wasn’t working. i got closure.
 

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  1. June 2, 2011

    i love exploring abandoned places like these here, they are always so full of mystery and wonder. And the black and white treatment was just perfect here.

    • June 6, 2011

      thank you yet once more! i myself am attracted to run-down or abandoned buildings, houses, places. there’s something there that i can’t quite put my finger on – the history behind, the raw clarity, the LIGHT… especially the light.

  2. October 7, 2013

    Since I can remember, and I can remember far, far back, I’ve felt an outsider, different from those around me. Part of that is probably responsible for me not feeling as if any one place is “home”. Where ever I am, that is my place, what surrounds me.

    When I move (Yugoslavia to Italy, Italy to Chicago, Chicago to Southern Illinois, then to Detroit (four different areas), and finally here in Colorado) the new place immediately becomes “my place”.

    If I could live in this world without a set Nationality, I would do so.

    Thank you for the emotive description of your visit home . . . I’ve heard that for most people it’s never as they imagine it would be.

    • October 9, 2013

      dear emilio,

      thank you for such an insightful comment. the theme of home is one that has been tightening its grip around my heart stronger and stronger in the last couple of years. i, too, have never felt as an insider anywhere culturally, and the least so in my passport country.

      i have found that nature is what i perceive as home. when i am in the woods or tall grass near a lake or the sea, that’s when i feel that i belong. this idea of nature as home crystallized in my head only recently. i believe it has always been there with me implicitly, but it was in the process of writing my master’s thesis that i was able to formulate my own feelings about this. i analyzed the role of landscape and the human+nature relationship in a book by the finnish writer, tove jansson. nordic traditions are very much connected to land and how it behaves seasonally. i myself am the same way. i am fascinated by seasonal changes in nature. noticing them makes me feel alive, which is why i post so many photographs of plants, trees, the water.. far from the sublime, it is the simple images and details that i look out for.

      as for visiting a former home… i have also gone to a place in latvia where i started elementary school. it was a merrier experience, probably because it was well taken care of. i went to see “my oak-trees”… one of them is very old now and is dying. it was very emotional. smelling the smells of childhood and just making sure that they were real.

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