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Unintended Abandonment

(Extended version of an assignment from a workshop course)

All he said was that we were going to walk to a skate park
Failed to mention where this journey would actually take us
The parking lot gravel was scattered with forgotten party supplies
cigarette boxes, blue party cups, six packs of beer, and swisher wrappers
These seagulls do not seem to mind the mess
Tearing apart a leftover routissiere chicken still in the container
Each parking space perfectly lined against the murky water
Catching glimpses of algae covered rocks and is that a tire?
I turn left past the man fishing off the metal rusted bridge
Not bothering to ask where this turn would lead me
As I reach the sidewalk, cars are still zooming past
Clearly ignoring the 25 miles per hour sign
That faded bald eagle emblem should have clued me in
But it wasn’t until I seen the sign: United States Naval Air Station Alameda
I shuffle to the right of the sign and see two different shades of blue paint
What looks like a guard station is stamped with graffiti everywhere
One boarded up window amongst many cracked ones
Peering inside it is clear someone’s curiosity got the best of them
The cluster of glass leads to an opening with a concrete path
Flies are circling in the urine scented hallway before I reach the other side
Rust colors the side of the building
In forms of pipes, hoses, and an incomplete frame of a greenhouse
Pavement turns into nature
As I hear the crunch of brown grass not watered in years
Trudging along, acquiring grass stains on my favorite pair of vans
An alleyway surrounded by trees opens up on my right side
With nothing to lose, I follow the path that ends quickly
The sun was surrounding a dead end
Creating a fear so instant that I could taste it
Returning back to the opening, more birds
Geese are honking on the entrance lawn next to a large statue
Red, white, and blue navy plane
With a flyer taped on top dated today for a wedding reception
Why would someone pick this place for a wedding?
Whistles from nearby baseball practice shakes the question away
Next to the flyer I spot an Alameda point map
The red dot marking “you are here” does not help in the slightest
Rusty green paint surrounds the map casing
Rubbing against my fingers until I touched a spider web
Geese begin to cross the road signaling it is time to move on
I notice that I am walking slower than normal
The combination of road and sidewalk is comforting
Although cars drive through the solitude and isolation as if it didn’t exist
Past the geese, I make a right at the chain link fence
Baseball coaches surround the diamond once occupied by the troops
Across the street are buildings that look like identical classrooms
All in a row, all in the same blue and white paint marked by wing number
Beginning at Wing 18
Not having a clue what number we would end up at
Shoes squeak on the basketball court
As we pass the Naval Air Station Gymnasium still in use
The sports arenas continue as we finally reach the gray skate park
Young men discussing tricks while bikers attempted to fit in
Their voices fade away with the sound of distant planes overhead
So high above the faded no smoking sign I am staring at
Seeing the skate board is not satisfying so I turn left
Into more buildings and the emptiness settles in
This whole place was once filled with different people
The walk is overtaken by a creepy ghost feeling
Paranoia travels beside me
When did that No trespassing sign get there?
Voices and the honking are now far behind
Looking up at the building windows half expecting someone to be looking out at me
Stencil lettering on the side of one building catches my eye
“Base closed on May 25, 1995 due to base closure actions”
Eighteen years since anyone filled the vast hallways
Or occupied the numbered sheds that remind me of movie sets
Tan colored curtains cover a few of the windows
The same dusty curtains that lined my 12th grade history class
Each door is rusted shut
With tall neglected weeds everywhere
A baby bird shoots out of bush
Creating a fast heart beat and a moment of panic
The journey continues as we each Wing 1
A sense of closure washes over me
Sun going down and the goosebumps on my legs suggest the trip is over
Only question is how do we get back
With one indecisive right turn, we discover we just have to walks straight ahead
Marching forward, the constant silence is torn apart
Returning to the warmth of geese honking
Wandering past faded blue carpet below a dance hall sign
Imagining a world of sadness when it was closed in my head
The guard station is in my field of vision
But the sun creates a glare off of something I failed to see before
A gleaming gold cross above an assumed church
A sign that everything is okay.

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