Bodie is an abandoned gold-mining town that once held 10,000 people, but it is also a historic state park, maintained in a state of arrested decay. It is reached by a thirteen mile road, off Highway 270 near the California and Nevada border, three of the miles little more than a dirt path.
I walked the town alone, easily able to avoid the small groupings of photographers in search of abandoned house porn(without suffering the risk of actually trespassing anywhere), if I walked off the main road. I stood in the graveyard, up a small hill, set apart from the town and entirely empty and quiet. I stood reading the gravestones of immigrants and children, all seeking the American Dream in a remote and barren town. I stood outside the graveyard, where the Chinese graveyard might have been, but no one knows where that actually is, because the labour of the Chinese workmen did not earn them a place within the boundaries of a small town’s graveyard.
I looked at tin shingled walls, tracing the embossed patterns of little round dots with my fingers, and I wondered what it would feel like to hold myself in a state of arrested decay, like this place. To leave the tools scattered around the wood shop, to embrace the creaky walls and the rusty machinery, and to always remember this particular mess and measure of feeling, and to merely acknowledge and accept it, instead of demolishing it, paving it over, or fixing it.
If there is a place that will always remind me that happiness and melancholy can nonchalantly exist in the same heart, it is this strange ghost town in the mountains, curated but not manicured, abandoned but not unoccupied