VIRGINIA’S LETHARGIC SUMMERS DEMANDED a deliberate calculation of extraneous movement and speech. The heat, sticky and suffocating, the Southern drawls and the weariness of time itself hung heavy in the air. Virginia was a memorial to the War between the States, a museum of historical sites annotated with bronze plaques: The Battle of Great Bridge and Fredericksburg. Road names like Battlefield Boulevard were constant reminders of blood spilled between brothers. This was the location of the beleaguered Jamestown Colony, the bastion of Puritan entrepreneurs seeking what they could not find—gold and a shortcut to the Orient. The images of starched collars, muddy boots, and wild turkeys had morphed into colonial buildings, rusting bridges, and dilapidated shacks fringed with the cadavers of abandoned cars, their open hoods gaping like the mouths of looted skulls. This was not a place for an outsider to call home.
For me, home meant the ease of California’s Spanish missions and melodious street names like Junipero Serra and Avenida Del Mundo. I missed the outdoor restaurants renovated from old haciendas, blazing bougainvilleas trailing along the tops of walls, and the dry Santa Ana winds tingling the skin with desert air. But this was Virginia, home of poisonous cottonmouth snakes that stalked their prey with an eerie cunning, snapping turtles the size of garbage can lids, and other varmints that slithered regularly onto our lawn from the neighboring Great Dismal Swamp
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish