February 20, 2005 at 9:00 pm (Uncategorized)

I saw “8 Mile” for the first time this weekend. I wanted to see it in 2002 but of course, I’m three years behind on just about everything. I was impressed and enjoyed it a lot. More than a lot. I think I enjoyed it because I could identify so strongly with Rabbit. Plus, I’ve been to Detroit. His Detroit. At night. I’ve known trailer parks. I’ve known poverty. I’ve known drunks and drug addicts and people hoping and wishing but going nowhere.

Between the time I returned from Germany and started college, my friends from back home in the coalfields sat me down at the kitchen table with a bottle of vodka, a gallon of orange juice, and told me I didn’t belong there. They were older than me. Gayle and Mike were probably 25, Dean was probably 30 or so with three kids. I was 19. It was tough to hear the friends I looked up to and felt a part of tell me I wasn’t a part of them anymore, or as Dean said, “If you ever were.” They saw a greatness in me, a destiny, I couldn’t see in myself.

I left the coalfields. I left the endless lines of coal trucks belching black diesel smoke as they chugged up the rugged mountains. I left miles of winding roads, the valleys and the hallows, the small town gossip. I left my youth spent running the fields, climbing the mountainside, riding bikes, and playing sandlot football. I transplanted myself into a hell of my own making.

Anyone who tells you that anywhere in West Virginia is urban, is fucking lying. We have about 54,000 people that live in the capital city. New York City… oh… 8 million. New York City has more people than my entire state by about 6.5 million. However, by West Virginia standards… Charleston is urban. Considering the county I lived in had 25,000 residents (and maybe 10 last names), moving to the ‘BIG CITY’ was something.

Life is slow here. Simple. The worst that can happen on your way to work is a detour because someone in an SUV didn’t realize ice is still ice. You might have a shelter-in-place drill, just in case one of those chemical factories blows and we become the next Bhopal, except there were a lot more people in Bhopal. The last Wednesday of every month, the shelter-in-place siren is tested at noon. Everyday when I go to work, I see the same people in the parking garage. I see the retired doctor walking his dog. You CANNOT walk down the street without seeing someone you know or seeing someone else that knows someone that you know. And OH THE HUMANITY! People stop and talk on the sidewalk! Actually… STOP!

This is the big city.

I moved to the ‘burbs. Ha. I bought a trailer almost as old as I was from a friend making a quick getaway to WV2, North Carolina in other words. You doubt this? Try going ANYWHERE on I-77 South during the holidays. The wait at the tollbooths can be two hours long. I was proud to own my first home, regardless of how old and ugly it was. Regardless of the fact I had to hold the door together with duct tape. Or the those nifty fold out windows that had folded out one day and just decided to stay there.

The trailer park sat on top of a hill, which I now, not so affectionately, call The Hill. The Hill was full of other transplants. They had just grown up in different and hollows than I had. It became apparent that once you got on The Hill, it wasn’t very likely you were leaving. To me, it was just a transitioning place until I could get where I was going. Then I got pregnant.

Perhaps making $14,000 a year was all fine and dandy for me and my simple lifestyle, my 7 year old car, my $3000 trailer but it didn’t go very far at buying diapers. The juggle began. Juggling everything. Splitting a penny four ways became my speciality. Even as I got a different job and I started making more money, it didn’t really ease the pressure that much.

However, some lady decided to ram her huge truck into the ass-end of my car, which still causes my neck considerable pain at times, even seven years later. The settlement wasn’t grand but combined with my income tax return, I was able to pay off the trailer and the rest of my debt and still have some money in the bank. Around that same time, AZ was studying for his realtor’s license and I told him if he passed I would buy a house from him. He did, I think in November of 1998.

After income tax time of 1999, I called him and started getting serious. Trust me, having a child can ruin your credit so I had just spent the last four months getting my ducks in a row. It helped that everything I had was paid for. I qualified for first time home buyer since the trailer had been bought with a personal loan. I got interest free downpayment money (for three years) and a sweet interest rate for the time. I sold the trailer for $1500 and said good riddance. It had served its purpose.

On May 19, 1999, AZ handed me the keys to my home. The one I sit in now, blogging. Its very modest. Three bedrooms, one bath, attic, crawl space, front and back yards, no central air, floor furnance, living room, kitchen. I don’t take it for granted. I’m sure on The Hill, every other trailer holds a meth lab. At least down here next to the tracks, we only have one every other block.

But its not where I want to be, if it ever was.

Perhaps its not the place, but how I feel about being here. Perhaps its not the place that’s keeping me from pursuing my dreams. Perhaps its me. Is it fear of failure or fear of success? Is the fear of uprooting Nate? Or the fear of never leaving? Or the fear of losing my simplicity?

I don’t feel like I belong here anymore, if I ever did.

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