I met two West Virginians this past week right here in Lenoir, NC. We DIDN’T burst into “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” but in one situation we had an in-depth discussion of pepperoni rolls and in the second we talked about how Mountaineers have an uncanny ability to spot one another.
It’s true. People who call the Mountain State home tend to be able to pick one another out in a crowd. Maybe it’s because we have keychains, backpacks, bumper stickers, or other paraphernalia emblazoned with a WV. Maybe it’s the way we bleed blue and gold. Maybe it’s because one leg is shorter than the other from walking around the sides of mountains.
Okay. Not that last one.
The thing is, we not only tend to find one another, but we’re EXCITED to find one another. It’s like being in a foreign country and running into someone who speaks the same language. The language of a place so special, so unique, that it’s neither northern nor southern but something altogether its own.
My husband and I have a running joke when we’re driving and spot a car with WV license plates. He’ll point at it and ask, “You know them?” And I’ll try to pull up closer to see if I do.
Because we West Virginians are passionate about our home state. Whether we’re offering warnings about eating too many ramps, cheering on the Mountaineers, or discussing whether we prefer sticks or slices of pepperoni in our pepperoni rolls (rarely cheese and never, for the love of all that’s holy, tomato sauce), we’re just excited about the place rightly dubbed, Almost Heaven.
We’re not perfect and there are plenty of problems that need addressing, but at the end of the day most Mountaineers have a pride of place that runs deep and true. And while there’s an abundance of bad, hillbilly jokes about the state, here’s the one that sums up how West Virginias really feel.
God was walking through West Virginia one day when St. Peter asked him what he was doing.
“Working from home.”