Charleston, WV -- August 22, 2007

In West Virginia I discovered that sometimes the best internet access is at a bar. Sometimes my buses would leave in the middle of the night, long after the coffee shops closed. After seeking out readers all day I was always anxious to post something online.

In Charleston I found the Vandalia Lounge and spent the evening on a comfy couch with my feet up on an ottoman, posting blog entries from Cincinnati and drinking banana creme cacao cocktails which, though I worried they'd be too sweet, had another problem--they were too strong. After two drinks I started ordering just milk.

Every time someone came over to hit on me, I got free technical support. My computer was running sluggishly. And, actually is still running sluggishly. My technical support was for naught.


The night before, due to poor planning, I wound up at a hotel way off in the suburbs. In the morning I took a bus into town, through rolling green hills and little towns that reminded me of the Peruvian countryside for the windy roads and casual, barefooted character of it all. People smoked on their front porches and toddlers tackled each other in jungles of plastic jungle gym toys.

On the bus, a woman was reading Book 6 of Elsie’s Motherhood, by Martha Finley, part of a twenty-six book series. She wouldn’t let me take her picture. "I’m on my way home right now to wash and set my hair," she explained. "Ain’t nobody gonna take my picture looking like this." I could respect that. A young woman my age overheard our conversation and told me she usually has a book, but hadn’t had room in her bag that day. She showed me where to get off to go to the Public Library and where the best bookshop in town was—Taylor's, just down the street from the library and across the street from the ice cream shop she works at. She said she was reading Silas Marner, by George Eliot, trying to get back in touch with the classics.

I felt homeless during the day, carrying my pack around. It was heavy. The bus station had no storage and my hotel was too far away to go back to. I hadn't yet learned my next trick--find any hotel front desk to keep the bag and just let them assume you're a guest. It made me feel guilty but sometimes my shoulders needed a break.

No comments: