I have walked so many streets since West Virginia. At first I went looking for beautiful streets, streets with cobblestones and cathedrals, and in Virginia, streets with brick. I wanted to feel weightless. I wanted to wear loafers and write poetry. That’s what happens in Europe, you write poetry. The words come to you, tripping over the stones under your feet, swirling on the surface of your wine. They whistle past in a zephyr through the trees. They fall like rain in your leather bound journal, splashing in droplets of ink that disintegrate into letters. Don’t they? No, I was just Casper in Europe. Casper who liked women more than words, and Southern whiskey more than wine. I never could write poetry anyways. Just as I never liked baking. The words are measured and exact, weighted perfectly. In prose, words melt together in the senses, sometimes you need more cilantro but the only measuring cup you’ll use is your palette. That’s right, I am writing now- feel free to disentangle yourself from my melancholic character and notice how each line is the same distance south from the line before. Feel how many pages are left in your right hand, before you are done with me forever. Poor Casper. Lonely in Edinburgh. Nothing to write about, really, but long, long Nicholson Street where I am banished, at the end, by the trees and the Sainsbury’s. It isn’t even called Nicholson Street at the end, it’s called Craigmillar Park and no one knows where that is. At the end, in Craigmillar Park, all the houses are the same height. In Edinburgh! Land of hilltop castles and Arthur’s disoriented Seat! In Europe, land of tall gothic churches every two blocks to break up the skyline! No, in Craigmillar Park every house is the same height, and made of the same stones, like an old brown stone suburb. My first day here I saw a cat napping on a slate roof and I thought, maybe I am in Europe. And then I thought, I should be writing a poem, and then I thought, Casper you can’t write poetry because you aren’t any good at it, I sighed in relief. And then I remembered that just because I’m not any good at poetry doesn’t mean I’m not any good at prose, or reading a book, or learning the god damn bagpipe. So, naturally, I picked up a book, read five pages, picked up a bottle of Jack Daniels that I had picked up at Sainsbury’s, drank half of it, and went down Nicholson Street with the intention of picking up a woman. Because that, I am good at. The only problem with picking up women in Edinburgh is that they are all pear shaped and sad-looking. Or maybe I just thought they were sad-looking, because it made me sad to look at them. Either way, Casper, your blond haired pro(an? I’m truly sorry)tagonist is celibate.
But back to streets. Charlottesville, sunny and white. Downtown a wide, street-lanterned veranda with beach music playing and hippie joints that try too hard. Sweet Charlottesville, you were all brick and green with Jefferson smiling down at you like Colonel Sanders. Oh and Tennessee, flat tar streets with cowboy boots. The state where I never stopped dancing. Slovakia, my darling, with streets that didn’t know where to start, village streets with beetles and mud and gypsy footprints, town streets with cracked cement and countless apologies. Stop apologizing, my love! Your soccer fields are uneven, your gym has only seven machines, and yes the Hungarians are moving in, but the sun stays out and the snow falls thick and your whole dreamy country is filled with grapes! More beautiful even than Warsaw where I bought cartons of raspberries for a dollar, spilling them on the grimy streets, watching them trampled by stilettos. Oh and those stilettos led up to something miraculous! The longest legs you’ve ever seen, covered by the shortest skirts. Wide faces with high cheekbones and little noses and eyes. The tiniest earlobes and the downiest hair! Poland, your women are to die for! But, because I’m trapped on Nicholson Street, I’m sorry Craigmillar Park, discovering Julian’s roots (why isn’t HE stuck in Scotland?), I am remembering, with the faintest of smiles, the streets I have walked not a hundred times like Poland, or hundreds of times like Slovakia, or, and I’m gaining steam here, two thousand times like Charlottesville and Tennessee—but a million times…a million times I’ve walked the rancid streets of West Virginia. Morgantown, the soot from the coal mines in the south sprinkles over your potholes and your winding roads. The filth is comparable to Paris, my mountainous slut! Oh and your women, almost sexy before they balloon into true West Virginian mamas, wearing their makeup cake and sweatpants and sometimes if they’re really mean, their Carhartt jackets. But in West Virginia the people are real, the hippies are hippies and the tattoo artists know ancient Greek. The sluts put out and leave in the morning with a pat on the head, the professors don’t wear tweed to prove they read Rousseau, and everywhere, everywhere there is green. After it rains there is more green. You can blow the soot off the city like dandelion seeds and watch it float into the encroaching hills, disappearing in brooks and streams and cherry trees. West Virginia you are the most beautiful of all, you are my home covered in leaves, you are my lady!