Friday, May 29, 2009

Inbreds Among Honeysuckle

I'm not sure why I keep coming to Panera Bread expecting to get any work done. Every time, every single time, someone pisses me off. Whether it's a chatty party who decides to sit RIGHT. NEXT. TO. ME., or dirty old men I know from contra who just cram into the booth beside me and strike up small talk, it just happens every time. Maybe I subconsciously crave the frustration, the pent-up urges to just turn to someone and say, for once, "Seriously?!".

I belched a little of that steam today. Three high school brats with Jersey accents take a table close by, and I overhear one of them saying: "(giggled nonsense)....inbreds. Yeah, we saw someone shoot a opossum." To which I abruptly slam my laptop monitor down and say, "Excuse me, but you have to go to the Southern part of the state to see the inbreds. This area here" --I then produce my middle-finger WV map and indicate the thumb-- "is actually the most rapidly developing regions in the state. If you want to see the sticks, I can show you where they are."

There. I'm over it. They were actually quite nice, those girls. Just uneducated. And while this is in no way a decent segue into my next Frequently Asked Question, it did make me think about our glorious state and the bourgeois, prom-queen bastard child that is the Eastern Panhandle. And it made me ponder, once again, why I'm itching to just leave.

Q: But why do you want to leave us???

A: This one I get really tired of explaining. "It'll be bad for your business." "But you're doing so well here." "Are you unhappy?" 

I am happy, I really am, and there is no one reason that I want to leave. I'm just tired. And truth be told, I'm not doing so well here. I'm doing only well enough to pay the county's cheapest rent, do my laundry with a flashlight (in an unlit basement), and wake each morning to the uplifting vocals of a feral Pomeranian. I'm slipping up on projects and my back is curving in unpleasant ways. I stay indoors because my favorite people have all trickled away, leaving only the people who must stop me on every corner with the droning post-college questionnaire: "Hey there! What are you doing these days??"

Getting as far away as possible, that's what. Leaving mindless "Well, how are you?" behind and driving until I get to "Hello, my name is."

So there's my answer. I do love this place, and I do love you. All of it. Even the dirty old men, even the compulsive question-talkers. Even you, Jefferson County, you favored eldest child, you. I'm scared to death of how much I'll miss this place. I could smell honeysuckle on my porch this morning and now I worry about being homesick for little things like that. But I'm just tired. I could be happy and well here for thirty more years, easy. I could have bushels of honeysuckle and all the familiar faces I want, but I'm not willing to take that chance. From my own crooked little lookout fort, the view says that staying is the gamble. Leaving is my only sure bet.

In other news, I've just watched the Notorious Bettie Page and am considering pin-up girl bangs. Maybe I'll shear them en route as a symbolic rite? Lindsey, do they allow candles in our nation's Hotel 6's? How do they feel about chanting and mourning?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hitchhike to the Yellow Moon

This time next month, I may as well be on that yellow or any-colored moon. I'm packing up my little sunny Smartee car and driving West to chase my own empire, to drive my flag into unknown soil. I don't know when I'm coming back again, so I'm giving this blog thing a spin to keep tabs on the ones I love, and to detail my exploits for those who'd care to follow.

For starters, I've compiled some FAQ's for your pleasure, to clarify on this somewhat sudden and nonsensical move. The answers are long and ill-expressed, so I'll be highlighting one per post, starting with the obvious:

Q: OMG TOM! Why Seattle?  

A: I have a lot of reasons, and they are all pretty much based on aesthetics and whimsical deduction rather than good, solid decision-making.
 a. Old parts of me have always wanted to live on the coast (or at least the illusion of a coast)
 b. Older, deeply-rooted parts of me positively detest heat. Heat of any kind. 
 c. More recent parts of me yearn to sample city living.

The heat factor obviously knocks out anything further South, while the coastal factor knocks out anything inland. Boston and New York both just scare the hell out of me. But Seattle....Seattle got me thinking. Seattle I know next to nothing about.

A life-long diet of pop culture has already imbedded a picture of Seattle in my mind, however false it is, and I like what I see and hear and smell. In my mind, Seattle overflows with good coffee. It is green and temperate and moist and it smells like water. In Seattle, the armpits of my shirts are luxuriously dry, and I am always wearing my beloved sweaters in perfect harmony with the temperature. In Seattle, colorful street art makes up for the gray skies, and lithe people frolic in the misty shadows of white mountain peaks. I like that. 

The Seattle in my mind is the American city built in preparation for my arrival. It's glitter and speed like a city should be, but gentler, friendlier, navigable. The sky is green at night, and I don't know why. I see briefcases and lattes, and streamlined Futurist buildings. I also see outdoor enthusiasts, pretty girls holding hands, dive bars, lush parks, vespas, fish markets, black sands, seagulls, ferry rides, teeny old apartments, and splashy puddles. I like all these things.

And yes, I've Googled, I've read, I've studied. I've taken hour-long walks on StreetView and exhausted craigslist utterly. Seattle might not be like I imagine it at all, but I know enough. I know that it will not disappoint me. I will bend the avenues to my wishes and I will find what I am looking for.