February Made Me Shiver

I chose Albany because it just seemed so appropriate after how bad Providence was. It was always where I’d escape to when things got out of control, back when I was with Laura, maybe even before that; a place where I knew I was still wanted, or at least understood, even if what happened there rarely went to plan. At the end of the last four Februaries I found myself in the capital district, and here I was again, and by odd coincidence, so was my best friend I’d gone to see all these times (which was something I wouldn’t know until I was about to leave anyway)

By the time I got to Albany, at least I realized it couldn’t be any worse than yesterday. Even if the people I was trying to meet here were nowhere to be found, and my attempt at saving a ruined weekend didn’t amount to anything, at least I’d be on my way out of here soon enough and back home for another helping of defeat. But, after waiting on Capitol Hill for an hour, eventually Darren did show up. I was ready for anything after Providence, and sure enough, I got “special” treatment: we could explore, but any abandoned locations were too sensitive for him to go to with me just yet, so he dragged me out to Poestenskill Falls, to take pictures of a very cold, icy waterfall. Of course, on the way down to the falls I found some old barbed wire and tore a giant slice out of my pants, after having just ruined my other ones the day before — so maybe it still wasn’t quite my day yet.

This wasn’t quite how I’d intended to spend my Sunday, and apparently I failed whatever test he meant to give me by bringing me all the way out there. He wouldn’t ‘take the chance of’ exploring with me, only asked me if I knew any new places to go around there. Whatever his reasoning though, once I told him about my annual trips to Albany, he had no problem dropping me off at an abandoned warehouse that he didn’t know about. I was hoping maybe if it wasn’t “his preciousssss” Darren might be more interested in exploring… but that wouldn’t be the case, he thanked me for the new location and sent me on my way. While nowhere near at Ryan’s level, he still thought I needed some work, and exploring alone might do the trick.

It didn’t.

I still went through the motions, lacking anything better to do, and hoping that maybe I would learn something after all, but it just wasn’t the same. Where he described a peaceful, relaxing environment without anyone getting in the way, I found only an intense, unsettling environment with no one there when it all went wrong. I’d done it once before, also in Albany, and it wasn’t so bad, but maybe I was in a better state of mind then, not having someone go out of their way to destroy my adventure the night before. I was out exploring, can’t argue with that, but I was out exploring with all of the stress and about none of the fun of just about every other place I’d been.

I still didn’t want to be there. As right as it should have felt to be back on familiar ground (I’d already explored this place once, exactly a year ago, with my friend and a screaming throbbing hangover) I couldn’t escape thinking there was something lurking around ready to ruin my day. (Did I mention I don’t explore alone?)

Going downstairs, I saw that really nothing had changed in a whole year. All those mysterious Recession-era office furnishings? Still there, still unclaimed by their owners, corporations that must have downsized, forgotten about them, and bought all new when the economy didn’t collapse as direly as predicted.

And then I finally figured out what was wrong. I heard a truck coming from far too close, and hid behind one of the many stacks of boxes of old advertising, waiting for the inevitable. If there’s one positive about this place, at least it’s easy to hide in plain sight.

The truck turned out to be far closer than I could have imagined. It wasn’t outside at the loading docks — it was a Chevy pickup, doing hot laps and maybe even some donuts on the warehouse floor until the driver (security?) hit a patch of ice and drifted into one of the columns, jumped out of his truck, stomped around and swore like a climber for a while, and finally peeled out of there, smashing down another loading dock on his way.

I left through the brand new exit, more than ready to get out and very convinced not to explore alone ever again.

As soon as I was out, I called Christian and let him know what happened in our building that we discovered by mistake that one time. As it turned out, he was just about to leave from Troy to Rochester, so we tried to explore one more place together (Proctor’s Theater, and we were just a bit too late). At least I finally, for the trip home, if nothing else, got to meet up with an actual friend, and didn’t get thrown under even one bus. I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to get home from a weekend of exploring!

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