Maybe it was Richmond, Indianapolis that made me think of Richmond, Virginia that made me think of “West Virginia” by The Front Bottoms. Maybe it was the nearly 12 hours of highway time I had already clocked that day. Maybe it was the last gasp of coffee on my breath before I pulled into the gas station.
Sometimes you just have to hear a song. This was one of those times. I put gas in the van and pulled it up on my phone.
The intro came on as I was pulling out of the lot and heading off to find my hotel for the night.
“Is it raining where you are?”
The only thing I could think to ask
But nothing ever hurt so bad
As the “no” that you said back
I turned it up. Like, loud. I had to feel it wash over me.
And then I was in the hotel parking lot way too fast. “West Virginia” is a short song and apparently Hotel Tonight found me hotel that was even shorter to drive to. There was a pair of guys drinking anything but ice cold Bud’s sitting in the bed of a pickup. It was a sweaty Friday night with the sun just turning down. Everybody was calling the end of their week I guess.
As I pulled into a spot the bridge came on,
Like I said I thought I was focused
I thought I had it all figured out
I had to organize my words good
Before they’d fall right out my mouth
And I had learned that the direction
I was walking was so wrong
I just need a little help here, man
To find the path I should be on
The Bud boys glanced at me for a second. They had their beers, I had my song. I let it finish. I forgot to turn the volume down as I shut the van off (which would scare the shit out of me the next morning when I turned it back on), and I walked into my hotel.
Welcome to Richmond, not Virginia, not even remotely West Virginia. I was still singing the bridge when I walked into my room and collapsed onto the bed.
“Maybe I need some friends in West Virginia too,” I thought. “Maybe. Something.”