Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Escape from Mathews: Part One

When I was 19 or 20, I might have looked at this picture and said, "So what?" Now I look at it and want to smell that marsh; I marvel at the beauty of that dead tree; and I want to run to that barn, press my cheeks against it and tell it how much I love it. Yeah, I'm a little bit weird, but my point is my opinion of things, especially Mathews, has changed so much over the years.

Recently I discovered a gold mine of information next door at my parents’ house: a bunch of old college and high school essays and my scrap book from senior year in high school. It appears that I’ve been writing about Mathews my entire life and just never realized it. It also appears that my opinions of Mathews have fluctuated drastically depending on how old I was when I was doing the writing.

Below is the first segment (in excerpts because some of the writing is even worse than my normal stuff) of an essay I wrote my second year of college. I am embarrassed at some—OK, most—of it, because I no longer feel this way. In fact it is as if some Other Person wrote it.

Escape from Mathews County
Part One
With Apologies in Advance to Anyone Living Here Because I Was a College Brat. I Blame Hormones. Just Like I Do Now.

“Mathews County is a boring name for a boring place. I realize this now, but there was a time when I thought Mathews and its inhabitants were great. I thought I could live there for the rest of my life and be happy. Not until I went away to college did I discover how very wrong I was. “

“...Very few people move into the county from other places. Why should they? There’s nothing to do there, and unfortunately very few of the natives move out because they’re so isolated from the rest of the world they fail to see there is a different way of life. They are opposed to change and progress; they are very naive.”

-Chesapeake Bay College Brat

If I were writing this today, the title would be “Escape TO Mathews County,” and I’d talk about how much I love living here precisely because it is a boring—but beautiful—place with a slow pace of life, small town ideals, and the nicest people on the planet. We do have more people moving here from other places, so there is more of a diversity of backgrounds. There might not be much of the typical things to do here like shop at Target or eat at the Cheesecake Factory, but there is plenty to do if you’re creative and you appreciate the beauty of nature. People are still opposed to change and progress, but that's not a bad thing. They are anything but na├»ve.

There’s plenty more to this essay that I’ll share in bits and pieces.

Just to be clear, in spite of what I wrote when I was in college, I’m hopelessly in love with Mathews and its people. I will never leave again.

Except to go to the Cheesecake Factory and Target.


Karen Deborah said...

it sounds perfect mail me a real estate magazine please. how much does a place there cost? Are there any to buy? Any old abandoned stone churches or coll building to turn into a house? i'm not thinking subdivisons. You don't live in a subdivison do you? Aside from the fiddler crabs? I'm going to get some photos for you of Colombian fiddler crabs, ya know it's the perfect thing for you.
and ah if I see any gorgeous Carribean men without shirts, but um really I have to be cool it is a mission trip. Why they take a bad girl like me is amazing.

foolery said...

I rolled my eyes about Orland when I grew up here, and I roll my eyes about it now. The difference, like you, is that I can now see the beauty in small things (you do have to look kind of hard, especially in summer), and the things I missed before are the things from which I run screaming now. We do grow up, eventually, all of us.

And I have to tell you what "fiddler" means in the LaGrone family some time. You'll never again say "fiddler crabs" without laughing, I promise.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

KD - Anyone who goes on a mission trip to South America can only be but so bad. No, I don't live in a subdivision. I did that for way too long when I lived in Northern Virginia, and I can tell you subdivision living is not for me. Unless, of course, it's Grandma J's compound, in which case I'm in.

Foolery - I think you may have told me about the fiddler thing before but I can't remember, which is probably a good thing? Yes, you're right about appreciating the smaller things when you get older. The older I get the more I appreciate.

I am off to the paying job today so I won't be back on here until tonight. Have a great Monday, everyone.

Mental P Mama said...

Ah perspective. Those fiddler crabs don't scare me one little bit. I would kill to live in a place like that again. You are so lucky.

Bear Naked said...

Your descriptions and photos of Mathews have made me want to live there.
Since I have never set foot inside a Target or a Cheesecake Factory I imagine I would do just fine in Mathews.

Bear((( )))

bellalately said...

Well, I think it's pretty normal in college to question who you are and where you come from. I know I had roommates from New York and New Jersey that had me feeling like the biggest parochial piece of crap.

Wasn't until prob. the last 5-ish years it dawned on me what a privilege it was to grow up where I did (Mathews/Gloucester) and what a charmed childhood I had. I literally called my dad to thank him one day :)

Big Hair Envy said...

I followed the same path. Couldn't get out of K&Q fast enough. Then, I grew up and came to my senses. I wanted my daughter to experience THAT life. Of course, she hates it. She'd much rather live next door to Short Pump Towne Center! Give her 20 years. She'll thank me then!!

What do your children think?

Grandma J said...

It's funny how our perspective changes over the years. Not only do we appreciate places that seemed boring as young adults, but I think we appreciate people who would have been deemed boring or geeky in high school and college. They seem to have more to say, all of a sudden are fun to be with.
As young adults we might be inclined to tear down an old barn, as we get older, we want to preserve the classic old.

Dear God, what am I rambling about...I think I need to go to Mathews to get in touch with my inner barn.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

mpm - A grand tour is yours whenever you want to visit. You have an open invitation, and there are no weight watchers meetings to be seen within a 50-mile radius of here. This is a good thing.

bn - You too should come visit, anytime. The Targets, Wal-Marts, etc. are a dime a dozen and pretty much the same everywhere...there's only one Mathews. (But no matter how many Cheesecake Factories there are, I will will be blown away by their menu and feel like I've died and gone to heaven when I can sit down and order from it. I've never once had their Cheesecake. The closest one I know of is in Richmond and I'm not averse to driving an hour and a half to eat there.)

bellalately - I think I went to college with half of the Garden State and most of New York state, so I know what you're talking about.

bhe - my children were the primary initial reason I wanted to move back here. SEcondary reason was to live next to my parents and help them out as needed. I could not see them growing up in the hectic suburbs when there was the option to live here. The children can always move to the city if they want to later in life, but I wanted them to experience the country life for as long as it's possible. Actually? I think if you were to ask either one, they'd say they love it here and prefer it to living in a congested urban area. (Well, they would not use the word "urban" but would say "city" instead.)

GJ- You are so right, and anytime you want to come here to reconnect (or connect) with your inner barn, Mathews awaits.