The Beginning of the Endless Summer

Photo by Pat Padua

After almost two years it was time to admit that it was an experiment gone wrong. Yes, it was time for us to leave Front Royal and the Shenandoah Valley behind us. Leave the pick-up trucks, the BAN ILLEGAL ALIENS NOT GUNS bumper stickers, the shirtless guys with the homemade tattoos, and the nicotine powered teenage mutant mothers pushing their strollers down Main Street. And, leave that mighty river, the mountains, those two lane roads that look like they’re taking you so high up you can touch the moon. Yes, it was time to leave all these sights behind us. For a week.

I’d been ready for vacation for about a year—since the last time we went on vacation. Even before we moved to this town, my idea of a vacation was not to get away from it all, but to go to a different city that has it all. A beautiful, pristine beach is great for about an hour, but after that, I want something to do, something to see other than the damn waves and the damn sand. And that’s one of the problems for me with being in Front Royal. Being there, I may as well be at some pristine beach that’s so beautiful it puts you right to sleep.

But then there are the other things we’re leaving behind with this vacation—like the gruff blue collar guy who knows a lot more about modern dance than I ever will, the shabbily dressed home inspector who happens to have a degree from MIT, and those stubborn hippie types who seem to be trying to stop time somewhere between Woodstock (the music festival, not the town in valley) and Altamont (the music festival that was the proverbial end of the 60s).

Sometimes the people here are scary—and that’s what I tend to remember. What I seem to forget so easily are those pleasant surprises, the flashes of brilliance that, although they occur regularly, are never quite enough to drown out the noisy din of what remains backwards in the Shenandoah Valley.

But we remain hopeful, which is why, when vacation is over, we’re coming back.

-Jose Padua



2 responses to “The Beginning of the Endless Summer

  1. Jose,

    Yeah, it’s curious the life that breathes into these places. Going back to small town Canada, I’m always surprised at the characters I meet. I shouldn’t be, since I grew up there (and every town is different – some are just scary). But you’re always surprised.

    Love the line ‘nicotine-powered, teenage mutant mothers pushing their strollers down Main street’. Could be small-town Canada, or most of the United Kingdom for that matter. Amazing how similar places are now.


    • shenandoahbreakdown

      The seemingly out-of-place characters are often a pleasant surprise! But, yeah, it is amazing the odd ways different places seem to connect with one another.

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