Friday, December 11, 2009
Oak Hill, or the story of a boy
As a child I would sit in my room and wait for overcast misty days. Having grown up in the shadows of appalachian mountains, my lust for cloud leaden skies was realized often. The dullness seemed to impose an opposite effect on me than it did others. I felt enthusiastic, optimistic, and encouraged to seek adventure. I’d slip on my favorite pair of penny loafers, top coat, and grab an umbrella before heading out the door. (my poor parents, at least they had the fortune to have given birth to two masculine boys ahead of me) I’d walk around the narrow broken cement paths of my neighborhood sidewalks and keep the canopy of my umbrella tilted to an angle that would sufficiently conceal the familiar landmarks surrounding me. I’d imagine myself scouring the gloomy cobblestone streets of victorian London in search of great escapade, romance, or maybe culinary delight (all depending on what story I’d secretly concocted earlier that day).
As I grew up I grew out of my tendency to create solo theatrical performances... or at least my tendency to act them out in the streets of my neighborhood. I was content simply to brood melancholy amongst my fellow puberty riddled contemporaries.
By the time that I’d moved away to college I had convinced myself that I’d fully shed the overly dramatic layer of my personality that had led me on too many walks through too many self-produced imaginary cities. But, it seems that the gods weren’t as convinced. Perhaps as a test to the maturity of my character, I had unknowingly moved into a house but half a block from one of the most magical places that I’ve had the fortune to visit.
Homewood Cemetery is an ethereal living museum of meandering paths lined by passive trees. Tucked away here and there are classical architectural models of human scale. Designed to protect those entombed within their stoic marble walls, and to intimidate those passing by.
This post isn’t about Homewood, but about the respect and appreciation of cemeteries that has been emblazoned in my psyche by that grand knowing matriarch of U.S. cemeteries.