Life is all about journeys, all about new experiences and not being afraid on something new. Right now, I am on a journey of my own, one of rebirth I guess you could say or maybe attempting to find that inner peace which as eluded me for sometime now. Recently I left Grand Rapids Michigan and journeyed south and headed to Sarasota Florida. Since I was driving, I wanted to take a new way, have an adventure and see things that I haven’t. I headed through Ohio and then into West Virginia (eventually I would get to the east coast. Along the way I stopped at various places and talked with the hardy West Virginians. Even though I am not much of a people person, I do enjoy talking to strangers in faraway lands, learning about their lives and the place they call home. As I passed through I found the people in west Virginia were nicer than what I expected, more down to earth, less backwoods than what some from the north say. I found them neither rude or backwoods. They seem a proud people and proud of their lives, families and history. The state itself was beautiful and a mixture of mountain and meadows, woods and rocks as I drove through. I found the curving mountain highways a riot to drive through.
I struck up a conversation with an older women who was the owner of small gift shop off the highway where I stopped for a coffee. We had a great conversation about books, history and my dog Harley and where I was going an why. Bits of her life hung on the walls like ghosts stuck in time just as the pain in my heart showed on my face. As we talked about books and she told me about great southern writers I mentioned I wrote a book and am working on another she wanted to know more. I am still trying to get better at talking about my book, explaining the story… I get tongue tied since the story line has multiple layers. After talking a little civil war history and telling me some interesting facts about her towns own history she asked where she could by my book. I had a hard time not smiling and I in my head I was like awesome 1 more ebook sold.
As it turns out, she wanted to order copies for her shop even though the book had nothing to do with West Virginia. She said she appreciated good stories especially ones about real life. She made an order for 10 copies of Running Northwest once the 3rd edition is ready and bought the current eBook for her own reading. I asked her why she did this? Why would she order books from a guy traveling alone? Her answer was because “you talked to me, most people just smile and nod as they walk thru my shop but you took the time to have a conversation with an old lady.” Now, she was only 70, so near my dad’s age and not really that old.
Then she told me a story about a writer from another time and another life and how he changed her world. He made her realize how special being a writer is and how important books were to her and how important to the world they were. He taught her to read when she was in her 30’s. That person was her deceased husband. There is more to the story but I will leave that for just me. The way she told it to me…well the story is hard to convey in words and I don’t think I can do it ultimate justice while I am sitting at little coffee shop on Anna Marie Island down here in Florida.
It’s amazing the things you find out about people just by listening to them and taking the time to engage with them…just by being interested in a stranger who may not seem altogether that interesting. The views were wonderful and inspiring as I drove through West Virginia but the people are what make the state. So, I’d like to thank Ruth for showing me the most wonderful side of her home and state.
(This is prince who kept me company while I wrote this blog. He’s one of the shop pets)