|Where am I from:||Cameroonian|
|My body features:||I'm chubby|
Latest Tweet:. Used with permission. This post is for anyone who has left home. This is for folks who have packed their possessions, hugged their mammas and daddies, and pulled away from the curb with their cheeks wet and their eyes on the road because if they glance in the rearview mirror, they might not go.
This post is a love letter like no other.
I suppose this has been a long time coming. Looking back, it must have seemed abrupt. Twenty-two years we spent together, then I up and left with no real explanation.
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I probably owed you more than that. Your hills and trees, your railroad tracks, rivers, and run-down factories. You could have killed me a dozen times, at least.
I seemed to be asking for it. I was rough on you, but you gave as good as you got. My blood in your soil, your splinters and gravel under my skin. This is how we did it, becoming more and more of one another every single day. I drew your initials in my notebooks in the sharp angles of the university logo.
They were you. You were green and white, too. Just like my Paden City Wildcats. You were orange and yellow and red, your hillsides alight with fire every autumn. You were black, a night sky as endless as my imagination. You were everything to me. My mom and my dad.
My brother and my grandparents. My home and my school. All of my very first firsts. It was perfect while it lasted. I wish I could tell you when things changed. That I could point to one moment.
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Maybe the first time I saw the ocean, standing there with my pant legs hiked to my knees, staring at the end of the earth. Maybe it was something I saw on television: a bionic man, a talking car, a chimpanzee sidekick, a girl in her underwear. Maybe it was the books, one of the stories that seemed so wild and strange and far beyond anything I could ever imagine happening while surrounded by the steadfastness of you.
That might be part of it. I knew, as sure as I knew anything, that you were never going to change. You were strong, stalwart, and set in the ways that worked for you. Ungrateful, I suppose. But my interests and ambitions grew beyond any realistic expectations. Far beyond the reach of your panhandles.
And I suppose that changes a relationship forever. The question is, did I begin to stand out because I knew I was going to leave? Or did I know I was going to leave because I was beginning to stand out? I fished your streams, but with little frequency and even less success.
Dear west virginia
Friends and family stalked your forests for hours in the hope of bringing home deer, quail, squirrel. The interest never took with me. But there were bigger things. Disagreement with common-held beliefs. Those I saw as wrong-headed, and those I knew were just plain wrong. All of that combined to leave me somewhere in between.
There, but not. I know your state bird, your state flower, your state tree, your state animal. I know your state fish, for crying out loud. I just had some difficulty being in West Virginia. Still, now, the places we knew together are like songs to me. I papered those walls with dreams. That town. I sought your best places and poured endless meaning into some of your most ordinary corners. I did all of this, day after day, for over eight thousand days. And then, one day, it was time to go. And not just because I was in Kentucky. I cried because I missed you already. I cried because I was afraid.
I had a tape recorder on the front seat to capture thoughts as I drove, alone, toward a new life. And I was right.
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But a dozen years here has taught me just how wrong I was about something else. I never stopped being a West Virginian. Not by all the gods in all the heavens. Geography be damned. He was coming to California. I have grandparents and great-grandparents buried in your ground. I have family living in the curves of your hills. I have pieces of me scattered all across your land. And I have the best parts of you locked here in my heart. Maybe all these words can never explain away what I did. Maybe abandonment is too great a sin to be absolved.
But I like to think not. That on a cold autumn night when the air smells like burning leaves and small town football, you miss me a little, too.
And that the few days we get to spend together each year are like a gift, a time machine. Proof that old friends never fade. Jason Headley tells stories. What a wonderful, heartfelt story of Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia. On his way home, he heard Newburg, WV, needed a doctor and started his practice there until moving to Grafton. He delivered most babies in 3 counties riding horseback.
I was born at Grafton City Hospital in and moved to Ravenswood at one year of age when my father found employment at Kaiser Aluminum. I had the perfect childhood, growing up in a booming town along the Ohio River and visiting family back in Taylor and Preston Counties in the Hills.
Byshe was living there full time and loving life! She enjoyed the last 15 years of life in her childhood home. All the family soon were coming back for visits and holidays and it just felt right.
Now that Mom is going and a coal company has long wall mined under our 90 acres and destroyed the land and natural spring waters, it feels less like home. I hope someday soon, the people of WV vote for politicians who will protect our beautiful lands instead of exploiting.