Thanksgiving I traveled to Indianapolis, IN to visit family and friends, to ensure my youngest had his senior pictures taken, and to ensure that my oldest successfully moved into the downtown apartment she is now sharing with a childhood friend.
Whenever I go back home to Indiana, I am consistently surprised at how little of the city I actually know, and how the parts I thought I knew, appear different to me than they did when the streets and their buildings were background noise on my way to and from work and play.
As many times as I have traveled along Meridian Street, which runs north and south through the Circle Center of downtown Indianapolis, I find myself discovering a new angle of the street and its many buildings.
This time, I had the excuse I needed to enter one of the apartment buildings that face the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, a place I frequently took my children when they were small to marvel over dinosaurs and other scientific and historic wonders.
My daughter’s apartment building has an old Otis elevator, probably dating back to the late 1800s or early 1900s, when elevator doors opened like a regular doorway to a gate that slid open and shut to keep you in the box sliding up and down the shaft.
The basement has the remnants of a call system, when my kids and I imagined people would call up to a room and perhaps get buzzed in.
The heating system consists of a series of pipes and radiators flowing from the boiler system in the belly of the building.
My daughter’s apartment is on the fifth floor, and the sounds of the people moving up and down the stairwell, and through the nine floors of the building echo.
Oddly enough, once in the apartment, we were able to shut out the commotion of the apartment complex and sink into the vintage feel of the apartment itself, regardless of the modern conveniences surrounding us.
Even the view outside the old windows, screenless, with easy-to-flip latches and checkered panes, provides a blended vision of the city — with modern amenities lighting up the night, while the layers of time hold fast to the past in the architecture of neighboring buildings, the color of the weathered wood and brick, and the cracked and creased surfaces revealing the age of city — an age that no number of face-lifts can hide.
This new view of an old city reminded me of the numerous ways we can see a place. Too often, we forget to see the places that we live. We attach ourselves to one route, and the scenery of that route fades behind the noise in our vehicles and our minds.
When we get wrapped up in the “have to’s” and “done-me-wrongs,” we forget to see and absorb the details and various versions of the physical world that surrounds us.
Taking time to see a town or city with new eyes, from a different angel, helps give new perspective and insight on not only the physical world, but on our mental and emotional states of mind and heart, giving us a chance to see the beauty through the madness.