Since moving out to the middle, I travel two routes with fair regularity to see my family. The long trip takes me to New Hampshire, some nine hundred miles. The short trip takes me to Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.
I call friends during the first hour or so of the drive and leave a message. “Hello, I am in the car all day, give me a call, we will catch up, bonjour.” When she called back, my friend Erica asked where I was driving. “Virginia,” I told her. “Isn’t that a little far?” she asked reasonably.
When I moved to Kentucky, my aunt in VA gave me a key to the house. I would be “so close,” it just made sense for me to be able to let myself in any time I pleased. That’s what distance means to my family. Excuse the pun, but it’s all relative.
The drive to Virginia is an improvement over the drive to New Hampshire. First, it is much shorter. Second, at no point does it take me through Ohio. Third, it’s quite lovely. Mist hovering silently over green mountains, bucolic farmhouse scenes with lakes, and sometimes cows. But like every trip through this part of the country, it’s the signs that tell you everything. Not so much as a mile marker through West Virginia, but hit the state that borders our nation’s capitol, and you see this everywhere:
I’ll take it over Ohio’s hellfire-and-brimstone proclamations any day of the week and twice on Sunday, but it makes a girl in a sportscar nervous, and no mistake.