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Bailey’s Pace: Shoeless Hillbillies.

Wild and wonderful,” that’s West Virginia’s state motto. But what do people think about when they think about West Virginia. Images of shoeless hillbillies with missing teeth may come to mind. Or maybe when you tell people that you are from the blue and gold state, they ask you if you have ever dated your cousin. And perhaps even more offensively, they ask if you mean to say western Virginia. Trust me; it has happened.

As a college student here, many of my classmates tell me their plans of leaving this state to pursue careers elsewhere. They have dreams of big cities with 24 hour Chinese delivery places or coastal views right along the beach. But if those places are so great, then why do people from beach towns and big cities come to little old West Virginia for a vacation? I was driving down the same road I drive down every day but I was with my cousin who was visiting from out of town. She was practically glued to the window. She kept letting out sounds of wonder and I asked what it was that she saw. I wish I had the words to explain to you the look in her eyes. It was excitement and joy and wonder. And I guess since I grew up in these mountains with all this beauty around me, I never noticed or appreciated it all. At least not until I saw it through her eyes.

And even now, I am sitting in my a window writing this and I take for granted the fact that I can look up and see a blue sky and green grass and tall trees and all these magnificent things. And despite the ever-changing weather and soggy yards, all I can think about is how lucky I am to be home. Sure, the beach sounds lovely. And big cities have their appeal, but I do not think there is anywhere else I would rather be than here, home. So enjoy the chocolate festivities that April brings and the brews from our local distilleries. And if you have a minute to stop and think, look around. Think about where you are and how lucky it is that you get to be here right now. Take just a moment to breathe in the fresh air and know that, “Wild and wonderful,” could not be any more fitting for West Virginia.

– Bailey Pace, HashtagWV #88. April 2017

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HashtagWV Art & Entertainment is a high-quality print and digital multimedia platform for all things West Virginia and the greater Appalachian region. The editorial focus is local music, unique shopping, the arts, events, theatre, and food and drinks. tiktok.com/@hashtagwv

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