Places that Don’t Exist
There’s a cold, dull ache inside my chest every time I look at photographs. I don’t know if this is how nostalgia is supposed to feel, but that is what I call it. There’s something about the pain you feel when you get hit with a sharp, cold wind. There’s something about how the world feels and sounds when it’s coated in snow; it’s so bright and, perhaps, post-apocalyptic, as if you had slipped away for a moment to find that the only things left in this world are just objects, birds, snow, and a light, cold wind. But the world doesn’t feel so empty because there are still objects. There are still photos; there are still things. Things that make my chest ache, and I wonder if there are thousands of tiny ghosts fluttering about inside me. Ones I’ve picked up along my journeys: for every door knob touched, there’s a piece of someone’s soul, becoming a part of me. I imagine in every object in this world, there’s a glittering flutter of millions of pieces, of millions of souls. They are bursting about and attaching themselves onto you and slowly, within time, coming inside of you, collecting in your chest, and creating that small but ever-apparent ache. Perhaps the ache is a tapping from the inside of your chest, a gentle tapping on the ribs; and thousands of little bits of old, burnt out souls repeating, “Do you miss me? Do you miss me?”
And maybe, some day, when it’s silent except for birds and the sound of a chilled wind, when the only sights are things drowned out by the brightness of the sky and the snow, when the whole world feels large and empty but never ending, maybe some of those old souls want to escape, feeling as if the ache inside you has grown too populated, too apparent. They long to burst out, descending into the light, into the snow, into places that don’t exist.
Megan Baker began taking pictures at the age of 4 when she picked up the family Polaroid to document the melodramatic lives of her toys. Her first fine art series, “Decampment,” was published in numerous publications, including Eyemazing. She currently lives in Chicago, working on her third series and a multimedia initiative with bands and musicians.