On March 4, 2018, residents of Elkins, WV and the surrounding areas gathered at the Brewsetl to support local musicians, artists, writers, DIY creators, and community organizers in a night of song, poetry, and craft beer imbibing.
304 Day was founded to encourage individual participation and community engagement in the diverse and colorful arts of West Virginia.
Below is an excerpt from my reading that evening.
Ive been trying to put into words for nearly 10 years what it means for me to be here right now
and while Ive tried my hand and many different things,
I've never really have been able to settle on just one.
I’ve tried to leave here time and again but
each time I end up right back,
same place as i ever was,
like a gravitational pull,
some undefinable force
like there is something to be learned
something to give and something yet to gain-
all i know is I have given a lot,
and I have learned that you can have your heart broken not only by people that you've loved, but places and circumstances.
I’m been thinking a lot about the word “nostalgia” lately…
Nostalgia as it was once considered a medical condition by the Swiss, when mercenaries who were sickly yearning for their native mountain landscapes would become ill-hearted. They attributed symptoms such as fainting, fever, indigestion, stomach pain, and even death to this condition. While I can’t say i’ve had a case of homesick flatulence lately, I have felt the crushing force of yearning for a home for some time now.
If such a feeling could ruin the lives of men and women for centuries, I have often wondered about the force of our own mountains around us.
480 million years ago the earth crashed against itself - a holy birth of molten rock and sea,
A wild and violent beginning - to preface an equally wild and violent story to come.
West Virginia has always been profoundly affected by her mountainous terrain, canyon river valleys, and rich natural resources.
It is my belief that West Virginians are a magical people, with the blessings of ancient rivers running through their veins, and resilient as the mountains that brought them into being. From the workers who fought for union rights at the Battle of Blair Mountain and the March on Logan, to the railroad strike of 1877, and now the teachers and public employees who refuse to be patronized by billionaire politicians, ironically named “Justice"… Red bandana-clad West Virginians has always and will always stand up for what is right, no matter the odds. They may come to desecrate you land, extract vital resources and even brain-power from our communities, they may wear out your body and then pump you full of opiods or alcohol and tell you facile lies about how much they think you’re worth, or rather, worthless.. but deep down.. as deep as the rivers run through the Gorge, you will know that you are part of something bigger than all of the stars in the West Virginia sky. And when you climb to the highest peak, searching for light, rising up as far as you can reach, you may find that the meaning may not come in a Big Bang, but rather a gradual progression of tectonic plates fighting against each other, and odds that seem insurmountable in the face of giants, that the truth may only be found in the stillness, in the things we carry and pass on, in the eyes of a neighbor, or the heart of the ones you love.
To me it’s kind of like,
all the answers are and have always been right here.
I’m not sure that there is a word for this phenomenon - but i know it’s bittersweet
The way nostalgia makes you feel warm and comforted but also so heart sick you could melt right there.
Maybe the sentiment is indefinable
for how much a place can
fill you up and wear you down
all in the same instant.
How it can nourish an aching heart
while leaving you with a relentless hunger for more.
Maybe all that matters is that
we are all here
in this moment
with the same understanding,
the same appreciation,
and the same elusive devotion
for the place we call home.
Dedicated to the #55strong West Virginia teachers and public employees that fought for justice, a fair living wage, health coverage, and union rights, reminding us that ultimately, people have the power. Thank you. #youareworthy #westvirginiaforever #55united #struggletostay #304day