You can’t go home again…

… but I did it anyway ūüôā ¬†Nearly 10 years ago I went back to my childhood home (the one I wrote about last time) and took some pictures. ¬†The first big change – the road was paved. ¬†It also was¬†nearly double its original length, extending way on up the hollow and there were a dozen or so “new”¬†houses up there. ¬†The owners of our old house had fun redoing the landscaping¬†and painting. ¬†Now it’s gray – I remember it being white. ¬†The front steps used to make an “L” and led down into the driveway about halfway between the garage door and the bottom of the drive way. ¬†It looks quite nice. ¬†The neighbor’s house looks entirely different due to the¬†addition on our side. ¬†I wish I’d pivoted to my right and taken a picture of “my hill”. ¬†Maybe next trip ūüôā

Our house on the left

Our house on the left

The hill behind the house was a relatively steep grade and there was nothing but woods between the edge of our backyard and the crest of the hill. ¬†There was a¬†well-worn path between my house and the neighbors that led all the way up. ¬†All the way up to… (cue scary music)… the Water Tower. ¬†And next to that was … (even louder scary music)… a cemetery. ¬†It was a creepy place to be at dusk. Valleys get foggy quickly in the hills and as soon as the sun slides behind the mountain, it gets really dark, really fast. ¬†Me and a couple of the neighbor kids would dare each other to stay out as late as we could, but we nearly always scampered back down the hill to safety pretty quickly.

By the way – it wasn’t the graveyard that scared us. It was the idea of the kind of people that might hang out in a graveyard at night that was¬†threatening. ¬†Come to think of it, the only people that seemed to do that was… us. ¬†LOL. ¬†Hadn’t thought of it that way before.

You know, when you’re a kid and¬†you inevitably play Cowboys and Indians? ¬†Well… I just played “Indian”. ¬†We have Native American blood in our family tree, and I take great¬†pride in this – and as a kid? Forgettaaboutit. ¬†Any excuse for a costume! I had a turquoise shirt trimmed in¬†white leather fringe, beadwork on the chest, and a matching skirt. ¬†I LOVED that outfit. ¬†I also loved to practice walking barefoot in the hills as quietly as possible. To make it all the way to the top of the hill without snapping a twig, or making tree leaves rustle – that was my goal. ¬†Downhill, though – all bets were off. ¬†Speed was the thing on the way down – especially to see if I could do it without falling – something my less-than-graceful body wasn’t particularly good at. ¬†I don’t remember any major wipeouts, but … that to be fair – that could be due to concussion or something ¬†ūüôā

It’s a shame we grow up and busy ourselves to the point where we don’t take time to walk barefoot in the soil and feel the breezes on our face.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to step outside for a few. ¬†But first I have to take my shoes and socks off…

Almost Heaven

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” ūüôā ¬†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.

SnR-1973

Me and my little bro 1973

Clothes in the ’70s, baby – was there anything ever groovier?