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Today, Thomas and I drove back the way we once came.
We steered the car onto I-81, south toward the New River Valley. Eight years ago, when we were newlyweds, this place was our introduction to Appalachia. It was a season of my life that was beautiful but also soul-crushingly severe … the kind of season you look back to with a mix of nostalgia and dread.
(I’ll tell you about it sometime — I promise).
Halfway up the thousand-foot climb to the ‘burg, I yanked my journal out of my bag and started scratching down words.
I didn’t think very hard or linger very long; I just wrote. As the words spilled out I even caught a missing preposition — a conspicuous one, conspicuous enough to wrench a certain metaphor sideways — but I left it there. I saw it as a testament to how far I’ve come from the perfectionism that once stole all my words, back when I was living in this valley.
When I was finished, I ripped the pages out of my journal, leaving that messy frill of a ragged edge.
And then we met some friends for dinner.
And we ate pizza.
And we laughed.
And halfway through the meal, without so much as a hitch in my laughter, I taped my little bundle of words to the bottom side of the table where I sat:
When we left it was still there, just waiting to be found…
So let all this stand as proof that I am learning to speak at last. I’m sloppy and imperfect; I stutter when I scribble. But still — all this is better than the silence.
Of this much I am sure.