Leaving the Fort

I saved the [Jan. 24] article about the Fort [Sanders] until Wednesday, because I knew after I read it I was going to have to write a letter. I hoped by waiting I'd be less inclined to send it. Obviously, I'm not. I love the Fort. I love the trash, the homeless people, the stairs to nowhere. I love the empty lots, the reading tree, Vic and Bills and how all my friends lived there at one time or another.

I fell in love in the Fort, I fell down, I stole a deer head out of a dumpster, I found all my furniture on the street. I finally had to move out because it hurt so much to watch everything coming down, burning, destroyed.

Every time the faceless yuckies conquered something, I went and stole a piece, I have a "Fort collection" on my walls in my new apartment. Window frames, bathroom mirrors, shrapnel and photographs, a living history of the neighborhood that welcomed me with open arms as college became a brick wall.

When I drive through the Fort now, it feels like visiting a loved one's hospital room. Guilt for not having come before, for having abandoned it, assaults me. The light on Clinch is always red for me now because it knows I left, I gave up.

The Fort is not dead, it's just that "everything changed, then changed again."

Julia Nance


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