I’ve been grappling with what I want this blog to be… and decided the main thing I want it to be is a place to jot down my memories of growing up. I’m sure that will change with the post after this one, but for now… let’s climb into the wayback machine for a few minutes and travel to a magical land, far away…
I loved the view out my window. I was 9. We’d moved to a small unincorporated town outside of the state capital of West Virginia. THE Charleston, if you ask a West Virginian… that one in South Carolina is “the Other Charleston” 🙂 Our house was on a small street – at the time there were only about 7 houses on it. The street was partly paved and gave way to gravel as it meandered up the valley between the hills. Some would call it a “holler” – but I don’t recall anyone that lived there actually calling it that. The houses were brick or cinder block, built in the 50’s I would guess… nice houses, definitely not the dilapidated shack that comes to mind when you think of a West Virginia holler. It was the BEST place in the world, as far as I was concerned. I’d get home from school, finish up my homework and piano practice (if I couldn’t wiggle my way out of it) and then head outside with my dog in search of adventure.
My favorite spot was on this big ole tree. I say “on” because the tree had long decided that all the other trees were growing vertically, so it was gonna be a rebel and grow out from the hill horizontally. It was perfect. I’d climb on and then shimmy my way out til I was sitting several feet off the ground, my back leaned against a big branch. From there I could just watch the world. Sometimes I’d read or write, but mostly I would just sit and think about stuff. I was close enough to hear my Mom call when it was time to come in … but I can’t say I was ever in a big hurry to go back inside.
That period from dusk to night was simply beautiful. As soon as the sun went behind the hills, the air began to cool. Crickets chirped their songs, frogs croaked – I felt safe and snug, protected by the hills. I’d open my bedroom window as far as it would go and climb up, sitting straddled over the window sill, one leg dangling out the window. From there, as the night grew darker, the outline of the hill in front of our house began to fade – and the fireflies began to flash. Imagine the largest Christmas tree in the whole world, decorated in tiny, white twinkling lights – so big that it nearly completely filled your field of vision. THAT was my view from my window, and I loved it dearly. I’d sit there, drinking it all in, amazed by the beautiful, all-natural light show. I felt like it was just for me.
A few years later, Dad took another position in a town 50 miles away. We moved from a rural-type area into a more typical suburbia. Out my bedroom window, all I could see was the house next door. Then after college, I moved to the “flatlands” of the Midwest. Now, the evening air brings sounds of kids playing in the neighborhood, or of cars zipping up and down the main street nearby. I’m able to give my daughter a great life here, but sometimes I wish I could give her the experiences that I had… perched in big ole tree, immersed in nature … or sitting for hours in my bedroom window, drinking in the beauty of nighttime in the hills.
Almost Heaven, West Virginia. You’ll always be “home” to me.
Me and my little bro 1973
Clothes in the ’70s, baby – was there anything ever groovier?