I’m running on an hour of sleep, Brady ten minutes, and Brandon I’m not sure. We’re all pretty exhausted after a long day of driving and working. We left Manhattan around midnight last night and made it to our hotel around 1pm. If we had driven straight through we would have gotten here much earlier, but we stopped into Lewisburg, WV voted coolest small town in America in 2011 according to a road sign and the town definitely lived up it to the reputation. It reminded me a lot of mountain towns like Boone, NC or North Adams, MA, places that are relatively small but have vibrant communities despite their size. We also made a stop into New River Gorge National River.
While on the drive we were talking about a recent healthcare reform bill passed into law that included more expansive coverage for miners, but no one had bothered to actually tell miners about it. Brandon made the astute comment that, “Information stops somewhere.” I wonder if the highway is the stopping point. Not only are we driving on roads that cut mountains in half, but beside them are power lines and cell towers ensuring that drivers and passengers have service. Once the highway is behind us and we explore deeper into the countryside itself these conveniences disappear as if the interstate is the unofficial boundary line for the digital divide.
My shift for driving happened to be the Virginia corridor of I-81, which I know better than almost any part of this country. When people ask me, “Where are you from?” I hesitate to answer because I’ve lived in such different places. The truth is that I am a migrant son of the information age. My mother’s work in nursing meant that options for employment were available anywhere, but my father’s work in computers meant that my family had to follow the boom of the information economy from the rust belt of the north to the sun belt of the south, and for me that specifically meant leaving Massachusetts for North Carolina. I spent a lot of time driving between those two states, so much so that I can pick out which gas stations are clean and which are filthy and can remember when particularly beautiful scenery is coming up:
So I found myself driving this stretch once again until we made west on 64 for West Virginia. And as I write this blog in the luxury of a hotel room with wifi and total amenities, I realize that my early life was dictated by technology. And maybe that’s why I care so much about this, not only am I trying to define what it means to live with and without technology, but I’m trying to define who I am.
Photo Cred for both shots: Brady Darragh