It was summertime, Zachary had a week of vacation earned from his job, I was set to start a job at Walgreen’s in about a week, and after suffering two miscarriages we decided now was the time. We borrowed a GPS, got our gas money in hand, crowded into his Ford, Ranger and set off to visit Zach’s family in Sandstone, West Virginia.
When we got into Sandstone, at the bottom of a huge mountain, there was a little country store, and we stopped there to make the final call to my family before we lost reception on the mountain. Zach’s Uncle Larry came barreling down the mountain in a pick-up truck, which showed there was a lot of life left in this man in his late 60’s. I was even more impressed and also in shock at the speeds in which he zoomed back up the less than one lane, dirt road, as Zach and I followed and tried to keep up and stay on the mountain. I noticed out of my side of the truck, that there was no road at all! It seemed if we would veer even 6 inches to the right, we would with no doubt fall off the side of the mountain!
As soon as we pulled up to Uncle Larry’s house, Zach wanted to take a walk. The entire drive I had expressed my fear of snakes, and Zachary had assured me that it would be fine and that I wouldn’t see any snakes during our visit. As soon as I stepped out of the truck I happened to look down at the grass touching the side of the road and there it was: a slender, glistening, beautiful blue snake that was actually kind of standing up and looking at me! I love to walk, but I am not a runner. However, I ran as far away from that snake so fast that I truly believe at one point that I was running on air.
After my snake scare, we did go on a walk and we then went back to Uncle Larry’s to visit with them and other family members he was having over and to have a hot dog roast.
When it was bedtime we went to Lionel and Linda Jane’s who said we could have the whole upstairs of their house. Now stepping into Linda Jane’s house, I knew that this house was built at least 100 years earlier and that Zach’s family members had all lived here. The house was completely wood except for the tin roof and it was very dark inside, probably because it was so dark outside and so we weren’t able to see our feet or our hands in front of our faces, but we climbed the extremely narrow, straight up staircase and we arrived on the top floor.
There was a single light bulb screwed into the ceiling at the top of the stairs. The entire upstairs was dense with everything imaginable with a nice even layer of dust about a half an inch thick covering everything and the beds were those squeaky, creaky, metal framed, headboard and all types, down mattresses and scratchy wool blankets. Zachary looked around with a sad expression and then looked at me while taking my hands in his and said, “I’m sorry, I remember things being so much…better, up here. It wasn’t like this when we used to visit when I was a kid. We can try to drive down the mountain and get a room somewhere.”
I looked at him, looked at the beds, looked at how everything was piled up and thought about my little snake friend I had met earlier in the day outside, and about how he probably had some friends living up here and how there might be some mice and no telling what else, and I smiled at Zach and said, “No, it’s okay…we’ll stay here.”
We cleared off a bed, climbed on top of it, shoes and all, didn’t pull back the covers, and we lay on our backs, side by side. I played our time in West Virginia so far back in my mind and I decided I really did like his family, but the big pill of the dangerous journey up the mountain, the lack of phone reception, the snake at my feet, and our possible companions sleeping next to us, really was kind of hard to swallow. Just as I finished this thought Zach turned his face to mine and said, “You know, if roles were reversed and we were visiting your family and things were like this, I don’t know if I’d be strong enough to stay here like this….so I know that you must really love me.” “Of course I do. We’ll be okay.”
And we did wake up the next morning–with no bites I might add. Our days in West Virginia were definitely an adventure and a type of bonding happened that made us understand one another even more. It was just what we needed when we needed it.