At thirty-one and a half years of age, I can honestly say that I have possessed twenty-three different mailing addresses in six states. Military brat? No. Running from the law? Not yet. My family moved frequently to accommodate my father’s job, where he changed titles like a politician changes hats, and after leaving the nest I continued the trend as a force of habit. Since my arrival in Blacksburg in 1998 to attend- you guessed it-Virginia Tech, I have received my catalogs and phone bills in six unique mailboxes.
The decision to attend Tech was an easy one. A camping trip in 1997 near Mountain Lake left enough time to lap the drill field just once before returning home toVirginia Beach- and that’s all it took. Before departing the coast in August of ‘98, I heard many stories of young men and women that left their homes for higher education in Blacksburg and never returned. When Amish teenagers hit the town during Rumspringa, upwards of 85 percent return home to be baptized. The return rate for young men and women who get a taste of the New River Valley is apparently much less.
After school, I spent about six years traveling through Floyd and the surrounding counties for my job- fortunately much of that time found me in the woods. Floyd has always intrigued me, as I think it does even many of the born-here’s with names like Sutphin, Moles, Hylton, Thompson, and Quesenberry. If you lived in Floyd all your life and never stepped across the county line, you’d still know there’s something different here- something you can’t find anywhere else in the country. Or at the very least, at none of my twenty-two prior addresses.
This past Fall, I moved south from Blacksburg to buy a house and get married in Floyd County. We have a Riner mailing address, but I don’t emphasize that when describing my location. I’m sure to say, “Yeah, I live in Floyd.” Technically, I do, right here just south of the mighty Little River. I’m not knocking Riner, but you know what I mean. My name ain’t on that list, but I get it just the same.
Matthew J. Pace
Originally published at www.lcfarticles.com in early 2008.