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Disappearances

NOº 3678

30 Things I Love Right Now: [06.10.12]


1. The Commonwealth.
2. Which is to say: the Old Dominion.
3. Which is to say: Virginia, my home state.
4. [I suppose that’s really just one thing, the sum total of #1 – #3, however: I really, really love it right now. Always have, even if it has been from afar for the better part of sixteen years. I think I really, really love it right now because it really, really feels like home and, for reasons I can’t quite understand much less articulate, maybe that hasn’t always been the case. I’m reminded of that one T.S. Eliot quote: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” I mean. That’s sort of dramatic, but that’s pretty much how it feels.]
5. In particular: Southwestern Virginia.
6. In particular: Blacksburg, Virginia.
7. A recollection: I once brought some of my Alabama friends to Blacksburg to watch a portentous football game, over a decade ago now. I was a much more rabid football fan then, and this wasn’t one of the times when Virginia (Blacksburg in particular) felt foreign to me. I was proud of it. I missed it. I, well, I loved it right [then], and I was happy to show it off. Anyway, my friend Stuart was in the group and he said something to the effect of “I can see how a Beitelman could be made here.” I sort of knew and sort of didn’t know what he meant by that — I think it had to do with the granola-mountain-town meets College-of-Engineering vibe that pervades. Also the kind of stark (but not too stark; not too anything) beauty that lives here: big Gothic gray limestone campus buildings; medium-sized green (or yellow-red-orange or a bleak, dun-colored brown) mountains all around; also the earnest, clean-cut, handsome men and women; also (and maybe especially) the scrubbed-clean (and, yes) laconic orderliness of it all: even the hippies are rule-followers at heart. But anyway I liked that he said it even as it also made me feel a little¬† uneasy, like an imposter, not quite granola enough, not quite orderly enough, not quite handsome enough…and then, in other ways, a little too too. (Too neurotic. Too, well, yeah: too neurotic.) Etc. And that recollection leads to…
8. …this complementary one: when I was still married (to a particularly handsome, clean-cut, etc., woman I met in Blacksburg), we were talking about our ideal places to live and when I put Blacksburg atop my list, she looked at me like I had three heads. This from a woman who, like me, holds two degrees from the university there and who spent her formative (admittedly¬† not always happy) early adult years in Southwestern Virginia. On a related note, I recently asked my friend John (himself a Tech graduate) if he could ever see himself living in Blacksburg. He quickly, almost apologetically, said no, and when I asked him why, he offered a pensive, “Not enough to do?” Which is to say: a lot of people graduate from here. They end up back in northern Virginia or else they get farmed out to Atlanta or Charlotte and points farther away (i.e., Birmingham, Alabama). They think mostly fond thoughts of their time in a (the) quintessential college town, maybe they visit now and again, but what’s past is past. But now I think I know what Stuart was getting at: I too can see how a Beitelman could be — was — made here. And, it seems to me, that’s what home feels like. Or else that’s what home feels like to me.
9. Evergreen trees.
10. The daily walk into town, during which I pass…
11. …the great big brick house at 607 Giles Road, with its tin roof and it’s dilapidated out-structures (one of which I can also see from my kitchen window, when I write, standing, at the counter)…
11. …and also the tiny one-room house at 306 Giles Road, with its little porch.
12. That I could be very happy living in both places. Both or either.
13. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. Especially the chapter called “Seeing.”
14. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.
15. Wide-open-window weather in June.
16. Highland Gaelic Ale.
17. Hardwood floors.
18. My sweet old resilient dog.
19. Thrift stores. Thrift stores in college towns, where you can buy good books for $2.
20. Social media brown-outs.
21. WUVT.
22. The good air here.
23. The good water here.
24. The good green grass here. (Turns out it actually is greener.)
25. This (as always and, as always, the ways it makes itself new to me): Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!
26. Which is to say: summer. And patience.
27. Which is to say: being an artist.
28. Also disappearing.
29.  And reappearing.
30. Which is to say (as always): “…every exit…an entrance somewhere else.