Saturday, January 03, 2004

Maramet, WV

Today I ate lunch in Maramet, West Virginia. It's a little town on the outskirts of Charleston. Actually, it feels more like the underskirts. In order to get to the main drag -- such as it is -- you have to exit I-64 and twist around and below the interstate. What appears to be the main street is squished in between factories on one side of the road and a mountain on the other. The elementary school is also on this strip. The brick building's size and shape would suggest that it was a local utility building. The chain link fence surrounding it suggests that it could be a county jail. But the white lettering on the front indicates that it is indeed a place of education.

The Maramet Wendy's is only .8 miles from the Interstate, but it felt more like 8 before I reached my destination. I ate alone and felt incredibly conspicuous as an outsider. Partially because I was wearing make-up. But mostly because I wasn't related to any other person in the restaurant.

This turned out not to be the most convenient lunch stop of all time. But I'm glad I was there. Some people would be creeped out by the apparently low income level or the industrial dirt that hung in the air. But not me. I have been to many Maramets all over the country. Las Cruces, New Mexico. Salisaw, Oklahoma. Heck, I grew up in a Maramet in Pennsylvania.

For those of us who no longer live in a Maramet, it is important to remember that this country was built on places such as this. It is in these towns like these that people do most of the working and praying and living and dying in this country. They are the fabric of our country. A fabric that's worth experiencing.