Waxing sentimental on our final night here

The hills in southwestern Virginia are old, worn and comfortable, and they hold the stories of my ancestors.

There is a sense of mystery here, almost a feeling of being haunted, but benevolently so. It’s just the ghosts of my daddy’s people, watching over one of their own.

The winding roads cut pathways not just through distance, but through time, and through memory. I spent hours and hours on them as a child, when we’d drive all day to spend Christmas or Easter or a summer week with my grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins (lots of cousins, of various degrees of kissin’).

In our ten days here on this trip, only my second as an adult, I have witnessed these things:

  • Ramshackle houses with recliners and washing machines on the front porch
  • A small-town building that serves as a combination elementary school, public library, and rescue squad
  • Yards that hold chickens, goats, and barking hounds
  • Spray-painted plywood signs for small engine repair, live bait, a vacant lot for sale
  • Narrow roads that twist through the hollers, causing a 14-mile journey to take 45 minutes
  • High levels of devotion to church, family, NASCAR, deer season, country music, cigarettes and beer

They are all part of me — just like bagels from the deli, evenings at the theater, city sidewalks, and never paying retail. But that’s a whole ‘nother journey and destination, and I’m not sure the RV can go there, but that might not stop us from trying.


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