Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Porcelain Brother

On a pleasant Saturday drive through the Pine Barrens and later through the farmlands surrounding Lawrenceville and Princeton, we found ourselves in the vicinity of a familiar and favorite past haunt: the House of the Porcelain Incident. On that initial visit many months ago, as we left the area, we saw one other boarded up and forgotten house, but it was strewn with a litany of warning signs were we to inspect the site. On this day, however, it was vacant, of both barricades and signs of recent inhabitance.

Pulling into the long dirt lot and following the crescent along the backyard and ending near the tree line, which opens up to the many acres of fields and farmland beyond, we did not really know what to expect. We found two small shed structures, one modern, the other falling apart and made of blackened wood. Beyond that, against the brush, was a collapsed workshop area, strewn with pieces of hardware, tools, household items, and even children’s toys. Ivy had tossed a Jurassic Park dinosaur head circa 1999 in my direction and we carefully mounted the puppet on a stick, to greet future visitors. We joked that someone had apparently Office Space’d a television monitor, as the electrical detritus and broken glass spattered the lot around the Escape.

She noticed that there appeared to be a filled-in pool when we crossed towards the house. At first glance, the house seemed pretty modern, with the only access within an open cellar door. Of course, carefully walking down, the basement was far from finished, dirty, and mostly concrete. The telltale sign of its age was shown in the small dirt crawl space in the rear. We crept up the wooden stairs into the house, and discovered why we chose the namesake of the Porcelain Brother.

Much like the other residence nearby, it was a beautiful modern house with an awkwardly and uncannily outdated cellar. The tiling and plastic hardwood paneling were all modern and seemed recently installed (much like the House) and yet the house seemed a project abandoned midway. The house was pretty, but felt somewhat claustrophobic. You can tell how small it is from the outside.

Going upstairs added to this feeling. The ceiling was dropped in an A-arch, with a small cutout viewing window. I could imagine this as a large children’s area, but not much more. It was a loft-area essentially on top of a single-story home. Two large holes were blown in the walls. Of course, to add to the unnatural chill and sense that we did not belong here, there were children toys and a picture of a little boy in a pool. This made me feel a tad uneasy, but they all seemed like innocent relics of the former residents. Beyond these last remaining belongings of the owners’ children, it did not seem as if many ghosts of the past lingered in the house. Though we found many personal relics, such as initials in schoolbooks and the like, in this property’s larger, sister location, the Brother felt much more thoroughly cleaned out and prepared for a future sale, pending cleaning up, or even demolition.

Much like the other house and farmsteads we found on these winding roads, this house existed to me as a blend of modern d├ęcor and of an era just on the cusp of disappearing, an entity which does not know what to do with itself in its current state of decay.