I’ve always been seriously amused by abandoned spaces. There’s a certain charm to them, the charm of a place that was once a person’s warm, loving home. The charm of walls that saw intimacy that outsiders have never seen.
When I pass by an abandoned space, especially in the once very beautiful neighborhoods such as Jabal Amman and Weibdeh, I always stop and try to imagine what it was like when the gardens were green, and a family sat and had coffee in the courtyard.
Yet, most of these spaces are impersonal to me. For the most part, the days of their glory came to pass before I reached maturity. My fascination with them is just that of an outsider, trying to imagine what it would have been like to be a part of that space before it was abandoned.
Then this weekend, we decided to go check out if there is anything to salvage in one of the first houses that my family ever lived in. They bought it sometime in the early-to-mid 80’s and we moved to Saudi Arabia a very, very short time afterwards, leaving the house abandoned to vandalism and insects.
During those early years, we used to spend the summers there, but then sometime in the early 90’s, we switched to spending our vacations at my grandmother’s house instead. It has been completely abandoned since then, and when we moved back to Amman 20 years later, my parents decided to buy our current home, because it is close to my grandmother.
The house has basically been forgotten for the past 15 years. The thing I found most interesting when we went there this weekend is how it’s obvious it was never really meant to be abandoned the way it was. The dishes are still stacked neatly above the kitchen sink to drain, the cupboard in the toilet is still stocked with toothpaste and shaving cream, and the toys are still haphazardly thrown around as if my brothers and I had just finished playing with them.
I remember those toys very clearly, and I remember that we used to love sitting on the stairs while we play. My mother had painted a Snow White mural on our bedroom door because I used to love Snow White. I don’t remember her painting it, but I remember being very proud of them.
It is one thing to walk into an abandoned space that you cannot relate to, and a completely different thing to skip over cobwebs and think, damn, I used to love that spot. It’s as if a moment of my childhood got stuck in time, complete with 80’s logos and 80’s fashion.
Of course, with a lot more layers of dust.