Three Moments in West Virginia
We came to West Virginia for a severe beating by wind and snow, we asked for it from further east, in our fortified trenches of 21st century indoor living. The white filled every corner of living air, and all things moved sideways. I felt my brittle edges every time we stepped from the car onto the obscured, compromised roadway to capture an image that would soon be lost to the world, a vision dissolved. The day shifted from below 20 with wind and flurries, and a pale orb of a sun to near zero granite grey, gales and dumps. We only had that small window of time, after all. And still the cross country skiers picked across open fields from international flag to international flag; I sat in the car fearing for the preservation of the skin on my face, the elements coming at me like big hands full of sandpaper.
We drove by shingles nailed or stapled on the sides of houses, instead of on top; was it a choice made out of convenience or fastidiousness, or some logic that it would serve well during the sideways snow drops like this day's? The visual effect was some evidence of surrender – or a projection or judgment of surrender on my part – along the lines of who cared what it looks like. There have been times in human history when what things looked like was no factor, not even a percent of one, in the figuring of solutions for survival. Those times are not so much now, except for the homeless, the addicted or the dead of winter West Virginian. I say all this now with some longing for a less self-conscious life. A less senseless one.
The dining room of the inn where we stay when we’re there is one of those places, a place I always am so sure I will come to again. In winter, in snow falling fresh. Maybe it will be that refreshing morning after dying any kind of death. Maybe my mother will be there, drinking black tea with cream, watching snow fill the air outside a window and being, finally, where she aught to have always been.