Friday, June 20, 2008

You Don't Look A Day Over 140

Several Springs ago I needed to get to the other end of the county quickly, so I jumped up on the local portion of the Interstate to avoid city traffic. A little less than half-way there, I realized my need to pull over quickly in order to find a restroom. My bladder is pretty big, but when it's full there's little time to spare. I pulled into the nearest Interstate rest stop, and waddled up to the urinal.

A traveler--who ignored the space-in-between rule we men have coded into our DNA -- mistook me for an out-of-state traveler, like him, who was just passing through.

"Beautiful state, West Virginia. Don't you think? I'm from Colorado. We have beautiful mountains, but these hills are really pretty. Just incredible."

"Yep," I answered. "The hills are very nice."

He continued: "The thing about it, though, is that the whole place is so damn remote. There doesn't seem to be much in terms of civilization, at least on the stretch of road I'm taking."

I was almost finished.

"Yeah, we natives hear that a lot. There's not a lot of flatland here, so the towns and communities are tucked away in between the mountains. You gotta get off the Interstate to really get the feel of the state."

"Well, I'm just passing through," he replied. "I don't have the time to really stop."

I zipped up, wished him a safe trip and hit the door.

There are some aspects of West Virginia that trouble me, including the never-ending battles with poverty, a general population that's less educated than the average American and the medical problems that are inherent in impoverished societies that are growing older. There are things to love, too. West Virginia is a beautiful state, with good people who, generally, seem to care about community.

Recently, there's been a move by some West Virginia bloggers to create a new archetype for West Virginia. It's a nice idea, and I'm hopeful the effort is successful. My thought, though, is that there's only one way to make that happen:

Make sure those folks traveling through on the Interstates have a valid reason to stop, visit and get to know us. We've had too long a history of people quickly passing through.

Happy birthday, West Virginia. I may not always like you, but I do love you. You're family.


Buzzardbilly said...

Excellent post. I do try to point out things to do and ways to find out what things there are to do when I talk to people from other states who express and interest in West Virginia.

When we were driving down south recently, we were impressed with how lovely Alabama is. Like us, they get the shit end of the joke stick pretty often. We stopped outside Birmingham to eat and spend the night. The people were so lovely, so friendly, so ready to have real conversations beyond the old how are you and where are you going. We made it a point to spend a night there on the way back home too.

Buzzardbilly said...

PS: I believe you'll want to see some new alleged bigfoot footage from WV that I blogged about yesterday. I'm pretty sure bionic bigfoot may even want to pipe in and have something to say about that. What do you think?

All Click said...

Great post. As a resident of WV I get frustrated with the stereotypical view. It's not that I'm offended (even though I wasn't born here :-p) it's just that it makes other people form opinions and closes they mind to things like venturing off the interstate, staying at a roadside restaurant or maybe even talking with the locals.

There is a certain...issue/puzzle/conundrum with WV bloggers in that I believe they/we are making an effort to talk about the way West Virginia really is. What the people are like, the things to do and see, what the real culture is here and create a new "archetype". But on the other hand I feel that WV bloggers have no problems with representing themself as the stereotype and poking fun at themselves because of the nature of the culture. So it creates a tension between trying to show the best qualities but trying to cover up things that one has pride in, and should have pride in. Like growing up in a house without running water. Or never seeing an African American until getting to college. Or having to kill your food to eat it.

I hope that kinda makes some sense.

Hoyt said...

Exellent post! Amen on the "passing through" remark, too.

FWIW, I dig the "Friday Urinal Blogging" theme of the past couple weeks. 8)

oncee said...

Great post. Send an email to, so Jason knows to add you to the master list.

JDB said...

Well said, TFG.

The Film Geek said...

Buzzardbilly: Thanks, and I'm heading straight to App. Being to check that out!

Allclick: More than a year in WV makes you an honorary hillbilly.

Hoyt: Thanks. If we don't give people a chance to invest in our communities and our people, nothing will ever change. (And I hadn't noticed the urinal trend, thanks) :)

Once: Thanks! I just did.

JDB: Thanks, I appreciate it a bunch.

Jackie said...

That's the stuff right there Filmy. Best post I've read in a while :D

The Film Geek said...

Thanks, Jackie. Your Wonderwall West Virginia post was way cool too. :)

spinster girl said...

I love this post! And I couldn't agree with you more. I was in Taylor Books a few years ago on a Sunday afternoon when a group of really attractive, really "hip" (did I really just use the word hip?) twenty-somethings came in and asked what there was to do. The clerk's repsonse? "Uh...I uh...well...nothing, really..."

On an unrelated note, thanks so much for the kind words on my blog! They meant a lot to me. I don't comment much, but I enjoy reading the thoughts of my fellow West Virginians.

The Film Geek said...

Thanks, Spinster Girl. I hope you'll vist once in a while after you get settled.

And tell Ian hey.