Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I'm in the City of Seven Hills, my hometown, Lynchburg, Va., for the holiday week, pretty much away from Internet service—which I thought would be a pleasant diversion, you know, to live in the “real world.” Not so much. I feel like I’m living in oblivion, actually. I mean, what if Richard Nixon dies or something. I might not know for hours (yes, I know; just an example).

So after a pleasant but lengthy eight-hour train ride from New York Monday, I arrived at the newly renovated Lynchburg Kemper Street train station, which, at 8:30 p.m., was already closed. It's after-hours in the big city, baby! Home with the parents, where I heard fun stories about my great-grandparents—Mother’s grandparents—that I had never heard before. Thomas Stevens owned a grocery store on Fifth Street in town. His wife Lydia had 10 children—and all five boys died soon after birth, while the five sisters (my grandmother and great aunts) all lived. Who knew?

Morning has broken:Tuesday was my big shopping day in the city. Start your engines, cool cats. By 9 a.m. I had hit Walmart. I bought undershirts and deodorant and an extension cord. Mighty big excitement there, for the unemployed shopper. Then it was break time: Lunch with Trix Moose and sis Chris at Ruby Tuesday's, for the endless salad bar (a luxury not to be found in NYC).Trix then took me to Liberty University’s bizarre “ski” mountain, one of three such year-round, artificial snow destinations in the world, according to Moose. Pretty trippy, and the lodge that accompanied the place was actually quite beautiful. Probably the first positive vibe from Jerry Falwell’s empire I’ve had in my life. Of course, he’s dead and had nothing to do with it.Hey, they found a place to display Jerry Falwell's remains!Trix-Moose with moose!Onward! Next it was Ollie’s, one of those leftover inventory outposts; then Michael’s, Kohl’s, Ross, Big Lots, Dollar General… I hit all the classy joints, believe me. Never even made it to Target or Macy’s. Maybe someday if I own money again I can shop for real stuff. Just not this year, dear.

Natch, I got lost, navigating the highways that didn’t exist when I was a kid, living here. I was south-bound for Roanoke and had to backtrack on the city roads that I knew, for 9 miles, to find my way home. Dinner, sat with the parents, read a year’s worth of Consumer Reports, to bed at midnight. There you have it.