Tuesday, June 9, 2009

almost heaven

i took a little road trip to West Virginia not long ago... with songs of John Denver filling my head in the days prior, i was ready to see a little piece of "almost heaven"

it was a funny little trip. one of the women that i work with goes there regularly as she has family there... and she raves regularly about her favourite thrift shop in W.V. where she finds designer clothes and loads of household stuff at a steal of a deal. another woman from work decided she would go check it out, and i decided to keep her company as i'd never been to W.V. before...

my sweetheart dropped me off at her house at 8:00 on Saturday morning. she is in her late 60's and rather sweet and mild tempered, so i was expecting a rather sweet and mild day with a John Denver soundtrack (at least, in my own head, if not actually...)

the first part of the drive was major highways and heavy-ish traffic... but as the towns turned to rolling farm land, and the rolling hills turned to winding mountain roads ("mountain"... sigh! they're hills, i tell you!) we started to feel as though we were truly on an adventure.

sights along the way:

~ Al's car and saw repair
~ field full (and i mean FULL) of old cars... looked like a party, with no people
~ abandoned gas station claiming cheapest gas around, but no pumps... however, they did have the largest gumball machine i've ever seen, still half full of gumballs
~ dirty faced toddler wearing only a diaper standing akimbo in a dirt driveway, staring out at the road, all by herself

i navigated, she drove... the conversation ebbed and flowed... and during a lull she put on a cd of her grand daughter's choir performance. i know... flinch, right? grit your teeth and plug your ears.... but as the opening notes filled the car, she cranked the stereo up ungodly loud and opened the windows. with the wind in our hair the choir roared out a song straight from the depths of Africa... it made her shrug her shoulders and do a little dance as she drove, it made her drive faster and faster, people turned their heads and stared as we made our way down those West Virginia countries roads.

almost heaven... so much for John Denver in my head.

we had to ask for directions to the thrift shop, but when we found it, it was enormous... boxes of denuded and disheveled barbie dolls, tables of mismatched dishes and moldy books, ... half of the parking lot was filled with old baby strollers, a fair half of the space inside was carseats and bunkbeds, mountains of musty clothes, boxes of old baseball gloves, fifty sets of dusty/rusty crutches propped up against the wall next to a dozen or so pairs of ancient and obsolete skis (perhaps the source of the broken limbs??), shelves of old hair gel and mouthwash....

standing in front of the ball gloves, an octegenarian confronted me, wanting to know if i was planning on playing baseball or doing some boxing.... i told him i was contemplating both, and he regaled me with stories of his boxing career in the military... about teaching some "young pup" how to box, and then having his own nose bloodied every night for weeks by his young protege... swearing he wouldn't stop fighting the boy until he had bloodied his nose in return. one night he knocked him to the ground with one blow to the beak, and still no blood... at which point he told the boy "i don't believe you've got a drop of blood in you!" and refused to fight him again. he gained an audience as he launched into tales of fighting and community dances and "i told him i had a gun too".... and i drifted away.

around the corner, in front of the boxes of old easter eggs and ladies lingerie, another elderly gentlemen accosted me, asking if i was planning on filling my bag today... uncertain whether or not he was store security, i told him i was just plotting my purchases for the moment... ten minutes later he found me trying on pleather jackets and apologised, saying he didn't mean to make me think he was accusing me of shoplifting... just hoping that i would find somethings i'd like....

in the end all i bought was a few yellow tomatoes from a kid selling fresh produce and kittens in the parking lot. my friend bought a rain coat for 50 cents. long way to go for such small purchases.

we stopped on the way home for some bbq and fresh donuts... our biggest purchases of the day.

it was a beautiful drive though... a great Saturday outing :-)


  1. it sounds like an amazing day, the like of which I haven't had for such a long time...

  2. I love adventures like this - even if you didn't get the goods, you had the good times. and fresh donuts! yum