As I wander La Junta, I see what was and is now long gone. An old western train town with beautiful bones, but empty and failing businesses in the shops.
Testing this out.
Were they just getting by before the pandemic and then pushed into desolation once the world shut down and stayed home? One store has a sign apologizing for being closed due to health reasons. Another once thriving restaurant in a large corner storefront is empty. The furniture and signage still attached and promoting the best BBQ in eastern CO. The restaurants with ethnic cuisines, Italian, Chinese and Mexican all display signs that they are now “Take Out Only” and are abiding by Colorado safety guidelines. The American taverns and cafes are wide open, display no signage for masking and are serving patrons indoors without masks.
The difference is stark. Compassion is on display. Ignorance is standing next to it. I’m merely an observer making snap judgments from the outside. But I see the larger picture. I see the metaphors in the desolation. I see what was and what will never be again. And while the business woman in me wants to launch some local alternative economic initiative to bring holistic commerce and vibrancy back to these small towns with good bones, my internal pragmatist knows we are merely in the ellipsis. There is more destruction and collapse on the way. We did not rid our country of the rot from within. We are divided. We are in pain. We are bleeding out. And the abusers and destroyers may be out of the spotlight, but they are not out of the game.
The destroyers are rallying their troops, placing their frameworks and still convincing the man who sprayed “RIGGED” over his MAGA sign that he will never be safe or secure until the country is white once again. Like it ever was to begin with. The wounds run deep and they may never heal.
All one has to do is drive through rural middle America and witness what was and process the carcass that remains. The good bones.