When I moved here the leaves were changing, the weather was moving towards cold, and fall was officially upon us. I had no expectation of what my time in this mountain town would look like. I was full of hope that it would be unlike any experience I have had before. I had opened my heart for a year and I couldn’t wait for all of the adventures I would go on in my newest home. This year has been filled with boot stomping nights at the Purple Fiddle, far too many shots of moonshine, endless hikes, and exploring this wild and wonderful place with folks I had just met. As they year wore on my love for Thomas ebbed and flowed. There were days that I had no desire to stay. It felt so small and not to mention, the cold destroyed my soul. All of my friends would make fun of me at how much I detested the winter- on days that I took advantage of the snow and weather it was great, but on the days that it was too cold to step outside it felt as though there was no end in sight. Then there were moments which I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. The possibilities for hiking, camping, and exploring were endless. The art found in this community continued to fuel my creativity in ways I cannot express or repay.
As winter reluctantly turned to spring, Thomas once again became alive. It seemed as though everyone was shedding a layer (figuratively and literally) brought on by a harsh cold season and came into bloom much like the flowers that were beginning to pop up with the warmth. My experience of spring was massively different to my time during fall and winter. I was so ready to hike, run, and swim all that I could. Every day was a new opportunity to see and do something completely different. My friends and I discovered a variety of swimming holes that provided some refreshing afternoons spent in the water. I was able to backpack in a beautiful area whose landscapes varied in a wide variety of ways- spots that had you transported to a fairy village and spots that were so rocky and barren you’d assume you were in a completely different state. I was able to run some incredible trails, up some pretty brutal hills, and a rail trail that would lead you straight to a waterfall that was out of this world.
My year in Thomas is hard to put into words. It has been completely different from my expectations upon coming here.
This year has proven to be far more difficult than I had anticipated. I have learned that there is some work that I am meant to do and others that I should probably stay away from (though I am sincerely thankful for the opportunity to explore new areas of work.) I have made friends with unlikely individuals whom I know will remain in my life for the long haul. My preconceived notions of West Virginia have been completely thrown out of the window for the better. I am so incredibly blessed to have experienced a year in Thomas. Though soon it will be time to say goodbye for who knows how long, I know this place will forever hold a special space in my heart. I will look back on West Virginia with a big smile on my face and a full heart. Thank you to everyone who has welcomed me with open arms this year. To the people I danced with, ran with, drank with, and explored with. I am forever in your debt. You have helped shape me in ways I can never describe. Y’all truly made my time in the wild and wonder West Virginia that much better.