Almost heaven. That’s what we call our home, here in West Virginia. The Almost of our Heaven is both a space of longing and of possibility, that forever resonance in which we’re caught, between ceolum and infernum, enchantment and collapse, these booms and busts we have come to read as our given, not chosen, inheritance.
First, anticipate it. In fact, anticipate disappearances, jail time, lawsuits, death threats, broken things, cocaine, young wives, younger girlfriends, children. Don’t be fooled by the pauses. They will be full of bluegrass, money, convertibles, grand homes in foreign countries, pet orangutans, and infinite promise.
“Stop!” he yelled, jumping to his feet. He slapped his hands down on the chess sets, scattering the pieces across the sidewalk. People stopped to watch. His face went red, and he shouted, “I MUST TELL YOU THAT I AM THE GREATEST CHESS PLAYER OF ALL TIME!”
“Fifteen years ago, this used to be a wonderful small town,” Jack McGuire, the chair of the museum’s fundraising foundation, told me. “There used to be all sorts of nice shops and cafes. Now you can see the boarded-up places. The old hotel was demolished. Frankly, if it were not a courthouse town . . .”