Ella and Virginia

This weekend, I drive south.

I’m not sure what it is about rural Virginia that attracts me, but it does, and I find myself missing it all the time.

There were county fairs as a child, riding tired ponies in a circle for five minutes while parents snapped photographs, big slices of ham to eat, watching the very odd spectacle of sheep-showing, and tiny pieces of hay stuck in my hair. We visited battlefields, famous houses, cemeteries, farms, antique fairs, and restaurants. Dad gave history lessons.

Pippa threw up on me in the car.

I threw up in a parking lot after eating a hamburger.

Once, we spent a day going to the Route 11 potato chip factory where I ate my weight in fried chicken flavored chips. I discovered barbecue and hush puppies and there was no turning back.

Of course, there were the hikes up mountains, catching the Appalachian trail for ten miles or so, and defiantly sitting down on logs and refusing to budge another inch, only to get back up and march uphill for another two miles looking as sullen as possible.

I began my first in-depth study of regional accents.

And then it was gone.

We moved and weekends spent exploring life outside of the city were over.

Sure, we go back from time to time. A year and a half ago, I spent a week working with my church in true Appalachia, repairing trailers (This was the time when I fell through the floor, but that’s another story for another day.), which was amazing, but not the same as the luxury of frequent trips into the area.

But for three days, I’ll get to feel a little bit like nothing has changed, that I’m just on another weekend excursion into one of my favorite corners of the world, and that will be wonderful.

In other news, my ability to make typos is particularly embarrassing when it is in a post about teaching. In my defense, however, I’d like to point out that I was extraordinarily tired at the time and wasn’t fully mentally present.

As always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

Ella and the Night of Fiddle Music

There are moments when I feel particularly happy. Happy that goes beyond discovering that I did in fact put York Peppermint Patties in my bedside table to eat when I wake up. It’s that ridiculous type of happy that makes me smile so much that when I close my mouth, my teeth feel cold (I know that as weird as this sounds, you too have probably experienced this).

Tonight was a very prolonged happy moment. Clara, Jacob, and a few other friends hosted a southern dinner at Jacob’s house where we ate homemade pulled pork, mac and cheese, cornbread, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and salad at a large table. Clara had squeezed lemons to make real lemonade and someone brought a delicious chocolate cake.

But good conversation and food wasn’t the extent of the evening’s fun. Lily had brought her violin and book of fiddle music, which meant that we spent the rest of the night playing instruments and singing songs like Old Joe Clark and Bile ‘Em Cabbage Down. Jacob has pictures of me looking insane while holding a shaker egg that will hit the internet at some point, causing me much more amusement and less shame than they should.

I was brought back to my childhood when we would have near weekly music sessions with our neighbors. The kids would role around in the grass and play flashlight tag in the first whispers of darkness, the adults would drink fancy French wine out of the Dixie cups that had jokes printed on the sides–the humor of the juxtaposition lost–and I would beg for Country Roads or Downtown to be played over and over again.

I also played violin and would spend hours listening to bluegrass and Irish reels, hopeful that one day I could play that quickly, and in fifth grade we spent music class learning about local music. Two years back when I was in southern Virginia, I was surprised to discover that I can still play the spoons. I can’t recall anything from my Irish step dancing class in sixth grade, but I do know that you can’t get too close to your partner or you’ll kick them in the shins and they will be very angry with you.

Later, after Cecelia had driven me home, I sent in a lot of college applications (the first to a college in the Roanoke Valley, of course) while playing John Denver songs at a volume higher than could be considered socially acceptable. Last night, it was French punk rock, and tonight, country. Pippa had to crank up Friends in order to drown me out and complained about my music taste.

I also wore my The Great Gatsby shirt, which started the day’s awesome level at a much higher baseline than normal. I refuse to believe that there is a situation that can’t be remedied by wearing a book cover on your shirt.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.