Inspired by Uair01's latest post on psychogeographic maps, I decided to make one of my own. Not of the place where I currently live, but the place where I used to live. I haven't been back there in a few years now, so it's made strictly from memory.
Lacking the skill to build a map on my own, I stole one from the internet. Even better, I stole it from the 2003 schedule for the Shiner Comanches sports team, already helpfully marked out with directions to the stadium. Completely meaningless for my purposes here, as I never went to the stadium nor had any feelings about it one way the other. Still, these are the kind of details I find immensely fascinating.
Employing my epic MS paint skills, I denoted each site with a spot of color and a number. There are 20 on this map, and could have been many more, but my eyes could only take so much strain in one night. I decided to stick with the places that have strong, specific memories attached, or have something notably strange about them. Sometimes they are both.
Sites are approximate. More or less.
2. Hall Electric. They sold lamps and fans and things. In the old store, the window display had two lighted fans that looked like pinwheels. Even when the rest of the town was dark and asleep, the pinwheels would spin all night long.
3.The Denny's restaurant where we'd go to study. There was a palm tree near the door where grackles would roost, and a surreal hum from the power lines. This is the place where I met my husband.
4.A traffic light that always took an absurdly long time, even when there were no other cars on the road. This is where I first became aware of the disorienting creepiness that often came upon Victoria at night. As if it became an entirely different place when the sun went down.
5. The Victoria mall. If you park around back, you enter through a dim and echoing hallway. There was a restroom there where the lights would buzz and flicker like something out of a David Lynch film.
6. The former location of the Maranatha used bookstore. We'd raid it every couple of weeks, before it became glutted with romance novels. It had that distinctive smell, like paper and dust. I found my copy of John Keel's Our Haunted Planet there.
7. The place where my husband's ex-wife saw a ghost. Also notable because that bit of road always seemed like an afterthought. It gave me the uncanny feeling that it shouldn't have been there at all.
8. The Cimarron Express, where the cashier was always careful not to give me the ojo. She told me once she sensed I was about to receive an important message, and it turned out to be true. I'd go there for frozen coffees and later, my Sad Cheese Sandwich. One day, I will write about the Sad Cheese Sandwich, but not today, not today
9. A place where we used to live.
10. One afternoon, while peering out my bedroom window, I was startled to see the silhouettes of Nick and Jeff on top of one of the university buildings. Turns out they'd found a trap door and decided they ought to go through it.
11. The Sonic between Red River and Rio Grande. There were other Sonics in town, of course, but interesting times seemed to revolve around this one. In fact, we'd just come back from there the night of Reynaldo. Which reminds me, I need to write a post about the night of Reynaldo.
12 (a). Base for many of the wanderings chronicled in the early part of this blog. Near the church that doesn't want to be photographed
12 (b). Nearby spot of pink I'd forgotten to number but can't be changing everything now - An intersection bordered by a creepy Victorian mansion, Cap'n Jack's rooming house, the crosswalk light that never gave you enough time to pass, and the Coastal Mart which can be seen coming up on the left at the end of this video:
13. The cash machine that seemed oddly out of place, although it was always there when you needed it. It just had a weird vibe, that cash machine. As if the world had ended and the only things left were you and this ATM.
14. Here the little green dot is having to stand in for several things. One was the basement club where we used to dance. Another is the loft where the band used to play. Something dark in the atmosphere there. Chills right up your spine. Across the street was the murder apartment.* Around the side was the funeral home**. If you were quiet very late at night, there's no telling what you might hear.
This is a wretched photograph of me, but it does give a good view of that corner.
15. The very cute but suspiciously cheap house we didn't buy because it was bloody terrifying.
16. The radio station, the first place I came to in Victoria and where I realized I'd come to the place I was meant to be at that time.
17. The shopping center that always felt empty even when it was full. The doves' coos and pigeons' wings made a sound as if the place had been abandoned 30 years.
18. Resurrection Cemetery (I missed the location by a couple of blocks on this one, sorry.) One evening, I was waiting at the stoplight when I saw a car full of people unloading flowers at a gravesite. It seemed unusual, seeing a car there so late, but thought perhaps they'd come to pay a last visit after a funeral. Then I turned the corner and in my headlights saw that there was no car, no people...there had not even been any place to park.
19. The original site of Hasting's book and music store. Later, they would build a bigger store across the way, with a coffee shop where we spent many pleasant hours. Still, it's the original location that sticks with me. Perhaps it was because of the high windows in front that let you see miles out into the sky, or the back corner where the off-beat people would gather. I remember standing at the counter there in March, 1996 and having one of those unexpected moments of pure bliss that happen sometimes. If nothing else, that would be worth a marking on the map. The Hasting's franchise went out of business last year, so it's all just memories now.
20. This map is so old, the HEB is still marked in its original spot. The shopping center there had an uncharacteristic good vibe. Everything just felt better in that area. No idea why, but it did. When the store was moved further down the road, the mood became cranky and dour - excellent brick-oven pizza not withstanding. So if we're going to get all New Age-y and ask which place in Victoria was a node of positive energy, I'd point to where HEB is marked on the map. One might say a shopping center is an unlikely shrine, but hey...this is America.
One day it would be neat to mark all of the significant sites, then connect the dots to see if they make a shape. Although knowing Victoria, the shape will turn out to be a drunken redneck.
further notes - Once, I dreamed that the secret name of Halletsville, TX was actually "Bohemavaria". This struck me as so appropriate as to be hysterically funny and that's why it's listed at the top of the map.
Also, having had another look, I see there's too many dots and a couple of number 16's. That's what I get for working until 4AM. You get the idea, anyway.
*Am shocked to realize I haven't mentioned the murder apartment
**or the funeral home, for that matter. And this blog is called Victoria Phantasmagoria. Sheesh.