Well Ashland, the title of this column is “You Can’t Go Home Again”, and is about traveling back to where you came from. For three days in a row, I drove Rt. 360 and Rt. 301 to the Northern Neck, and the driving was the easy part.
My family has been in the Northern Neck for a while now, so almost everyone I saw was a cousin. My childhood comes flashing back at me with every new person who walked in the door, arms full of ham biscuits, pound cake, or Coca-Colas. Here was my 3rd cousin Julie Christopher; here was her father, Peyton Balderson. Here was Marion James Packett who I hadn’t seen in 20 years and looked like he was still 17. I smiled, gave hugs to many, and told them all that we live in Ashland now, and it is such a wonderful town.
They, of course, did not leave the Northern Neck like I did, and I started to wonder if maybe I should have stayed, too.
The church where my mother’s family is all buried is Menokin Baptist- an old, red-brick church surrounded by quiet bean fields. There are oyster shells in the driveway that have probably been there since my grandparents were married there, and soft-ball trophies line the walls of the parish hall. After the funeral, there was lunch served, but it was hard to eat because there were so many people to talk to. The pecan pie was gone very early, but there was enough corn pudding to last to the end.
At the end of each evening, I would drive home by 360, then 30, then 301, and then the turn onto Rt. 54 at Hanover Court House. Seeing the sign that said, ‘Ashland 6 miles”, was always comforting because I would tell myself that I could walk it from there, and driving into town late at night felt like a blanket around my shoulders.
Not everyone here is a cousin. My friends here have not known me since I was born. Here, I am just me- not my father’s daughter. I tell myself that is life. We are given these contemplative moments to reflect and to wonder about where we have come from. I am lucky to have come from that old place, and even luckier still to have ended up here at the Center.
So, there, I’m done for now. Let me throw in some Ashland News before Greg Glassner fires me.
(Hand on my hips) Who put up all those pictures of gnomes around Ashland? I fully expect someone to solve this mystery for me before we return to town. Hey, Corinne Luck! Will you figure this out for me, please?
Summer is really threatening to leave us, as the last Bluemont concert is this Sunday at 7pm on the front lawn of the Arts and Activities Center. The Daryl Davis Band will perform a healthy serving of rhythm and blues- enough to make you feel like getting up and dancing. Tickets are $5 at the door. Visit www.hanoverarts.org for more information.
Send me your Ashland news, and your stories of going home. The really lucky ones are those who have lived their lives here. I can be reached at 310-5320, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a good week.