For example, in my late teens, I thought nothing of taking a 2-wheel drive compact car through 8-plus inches of snow on an unplowed mountain road. These days, I’m a nervous wreck to leave our neighborhood in my 4-wheel drive SUV if there’s more than an inch on the ground.
Similarly, last week, I realized I’ve now become that middle-aged mother who prefers to sit in her beach chair with a good book in her hand while her children frolic in the ocean.
Long gone are the days when I look for a spot as far away from the lifeguard as possible, so as not to be scolded for ignoring the no glass containers rule while jumping waves.
This year, there were only bottles of water in our cooler. I knew there was no way I could sit in the sun all day and still be able to hang out with my family in the evening if, as in my youth, I followed the vacation mantra, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”
Yet, one thing hasn’t changed. I still don my trusty West Virginia baseball cap for a day at the beach. It has protected my face from the sun for over 20 years. It’s the one piece of clothing I feel confident will still fit me as I load up my suitcase each vacation.
As I sat in my beach chair, a bottle of water by my side and a book in my hand, a couple one umbrella over caught my attention. The gentleman asked, “Are you from West Virginia?”
I confirmed that I was. He indicated my hat gave it away. It just so happened they were visiting Virginia’s Eastern Shore from Wheeling.
We began to chat it up like old friends. My husband and I shared we loved visiting Oglebay Park last spring. They revealed their interest in the Eastern Panhandle’s Civil War history. In fact, the husband is currently working on a book about an event that happened right here in Hampshire County.
As we were enthralled in our conversation, our Savages approached from the ocean. Our youngest daughter was talking excitedly about her newfound boogie boarding skill. Our oldest daughter and niece came up behind her calling her a brand new “boogie babe.”
Suddenly, noticing we were talking to strangers, one of them quietly asked, “Do you know these people?”
I answered, “I didn’t, but I do now.” Then, as if to explain it all, I added, “They’re from West Virginia.” Our Virginia niece was still puzzled, but our children understood.
Recently, I read that one of the top 20 things native West Virginians must explain to out-of-towners is that West Virginians will always find each other when they’re away from home.
The article explained, “West Virginians will flag down a car on the highway if it has West Virginia plates just to wave. True natives always like to catch up with each other even if they’d never met before.”
You see, I approach many things differently than I did when I was younger. However, one thing hasn’t changed with age.
No matter where I roam, I can still rely on my trusty flying WV to facilitate a new conversation with West Virginia friends I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to meet.