Monday, November 21, 2011


One of the things I love about being back in West Virginia is my husband and I can visit all those special places couples have. The place we met, the place we married, the place we went to that time when we did that thing . . . Special places that we never had time to visit when we were living 500 miles away and spending every second we visited driving to see family.

Athens, West Virginia, will always have a special place in my heart. Not only is it the home of my alma mater, Concord University, but it's also the place I met my husband. We had our first apartment together in Princeton after we got married. Then a few months later moved back to campus in the "married apartments", because I was still a student at Concord and the rent was dirt cheap!

Over the 16 years we lived in Georgia, I often asked if we could drive to Athens as we passed the exit off I-77 on our way home to Georgia. What could be more convenient? Well, you know men. What's the point of going a few miles out of our way and losing an hour or two just to stroll down memory lane? I can think of two times we actually took the exit and visited our old stomping grounds. They were hurried trips to quickly drive through the campus and get back on the interstate for the 8 hour drive back to Georgia.

This weekend the weather was nice. I had been in the house ALL WEEK LONG. I was a bit stir crazy. I asked my husband if he felt like going for a ride somewhere. I suggested a few places, but he chose the place he knew I wouldn't say no to -- Athens!

It's not even quite an hour from Beckley, so the drive was quick. As soon as we pulled off the exit, the memories started flooding back. Driving into Athens, we talked about how we used to walk to the Deli-Mart. There is a cemetery in town that Gary and I walked to sometimes. It's just a pretty, peaceful area.

Some things have changed. They have a CVS, but the post office is still there where we had our first post office box as husband and wife --- awww! Gino's is still there. Gary's best friend worked there during college and late night pizzas were awesome! Now I have to take a Zantac when I eat pizza after 4 p.m. Thanks, old age.

We saw the old apartment where I lived and the old apartment where Gary lived. We saw the place we met. It used to be the Sweet Shop, a little restaurant right across from campus with the BEST hot fudge cake I have ever had. Now it's just an empty building.

The campus itself was beautiful, as usual. It's aptly nicknamed "The Campus Beautiful". There were a couple of new buildings. The place where our apartment was is now a parking lot. Kind of sad, but I commuted to Concord for a semester and I can tell you, they needed the parking spaces! The campus was deserted, since Thanksgiving is this week, but it was kind of nice to have it all to ourselves. We walked around a bit and tried to get into the Arts Center, where both Gary and I took so many of our classes and Gary had his Senior Art Show. It was locked, of course. We saw our old college dorms. They were just the same.

After we drove around Athens, we drove to Princeton and saw our first apartment. We drove to Mercer Mall too. It was such a fun visit and it was nice to have just an hour's drive back home after a day spent reliving our beginning!

One thing I regret is not taking a camera. What was I thinking? But we'll be back soon. Probably in the spring when the campus looks particularly beautiful! In a few months, I'll be ready to drive down memory lane again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Catching up on the last 2 years

It has been forever since I've blogged on here. I've thought about just scrapping it, but when you like to write, you write. Since I already have a platform, might as well use it.

I started this West Virginia Expat blog because I was a WV native living out of state and I wanted a way to keep myself identified as a West Virginian. I wanted to write about issues specific to West Virginia. I also wanted a place where former (and even current) West Virginians could read about things about their home state and maybe make friends with other WV Expats.

But life gets away from you sometimes. Homeschooling a middle schooler is quite different from homeschooling an elementary schooler. I got busier. I was less able to focus on writing about life as a WV Expat and more involved in living that life. Then something C-R-A-Z-Y happened. We moved back to West Virginia.

The opportunity was completely unexpected and not at all sought after. I have mentioned on this blog before that we seriously tried to move back to WV one time in our 16 years in Georgia. My husband actively sought out job opportunities, drove to WV for interviews, and was offered a position. It took us about a day to figure out that position wasn't right for the family. It was a heartbreaking decision. Seriously.

After turning down that position, we stopped trying. We decided to just enjoy life where we were. We liked Georgia, after all. We were really happy there and we coped fine with the details of living 500 miles away from family. We even said to each other that the only way we'd move back to West Virginia was if something just fell into our laps.

Two years later, almost to the day, we received a call about a position in my home county. The call was unsolicited. We weren't looking to move. He wasn't looking for a new position. He had a good job in Georgia. We owned our own home. We were satisfied.

But calls like that don't happen every day. We talked about it and decided we would just let it play out and see what happened. Three weeks later we loaded up a moving van and headed to the hills. We have been back in West Virginia since November of 2009 and sometimes I still can't believe it. Often I still can't believe it.

Two years ago I was living in Georgia, homeschooling a 6th grader. Now I am living in West Virginia and my 8th grader just started back to public school in August. Needless to say, I've got some time on my hands.

My intention is to use this blog for its original purpose. I am no longer a Georgia resident, but I do still feel like a WV Expat. You can't spend the majority of your adult life in another state without feeling a bit changed.

The grass is always greener on the other side, so I will tell you that this move has not been without its sacrifices, its heartaches, and its regrets. I'm going to try to expand on those in greater detail, as time allows.

We moved back to West Virginia just in time for one of its worst winters in years. Last winter was no picnic either for someone who has spent 16 years in the Deep South. We're working on the end of October and I'm making plans to settle in for another blast of cold weather, so I imagine I will have some time to put into this blog.

We're back in West Virginia. We are figuring on staying here. And I'll be writing about everything all of that entails. Some of it's good, some of it's bad, some of it's ugly, but some of it is really beautiful.

More to come.