Notes from Candice Ransom

Home: Not Always Where We Think It Is


The stars we are given.  The constellations we make.

small motel sign web

That is to say, the stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.


The desire to go home, to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of the intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars,


to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love.


To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild,


to shelter in darkness and blaze with light,


to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.

Nights alone in motels,


nights with strange paintings and floral bedspreads . . .


I have lost myself though I know where I am . . .

I have never been to this place before.


Times when some architectural detail or vista that has escaped me these many years say to me that I never did know where I was, even when I was home.

You get lost out of a desire to be lost.


But in the place called lost, strange things are found.

Text from Rebecca Solnit’s Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics, and A Field Guide to Getting Lost.

Photos taken in an abandoned motel on Route 301 in Virginia.



6 thoughts on “Home: Not Always Where We Think It Is”

  1. Great photo essay. I’ll have to look for A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Rebecca’s thoughtful words have given me a new reason to be grateful for the many times I found myself lost. Your pictures, so full of heart and soul, tell the story – even if the words were gone.

    • I loved taking these pictures and thinking about the people who slept here or crashed here years after the motel closed. Lost, all of them.

      There are times when I want to be lost. But at bedtime, I want to be home.

    • Thank you, Miss Jeannine. I decided to get out of my own way on this blog post and let Rebecca Solnit say what I couldn’t. Have you read any of her books? She’s wonderful!

  2. Heavens, I have been missing in action! Getting ready for school . . . I love the old sign, too, and it’s my favorite photo so far this year. It’ll be on calendars and cards I make. So many signs like that were lit up and down highways that are still busy but all the motel business is on Interstates and they are all chain motels. I loved staying in Mom and Pop motels when I was a kid.


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