CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It was just a televised view from a blimp during the WVU-LSU game a few weeks back, but there was something about it that stuck with me. The sea of Mountaineer gold. I'd never seen so much of the same color in a stadium before.
Didn't seem to matter that the odds were stacked against us, we were in it together. I felt swollen with pride. Even though we lost the game, that didn't matter. That feeling stayed with me. I mentioned it to one of my co-workers, Caitlin Ashley, who'd been in Morgantown for the game.
Caitlin told about going with her boyfriend to a smallish bar called the Back Door the night before the game. The bar was packed to capacity, and so loud it was hard to hear the person right beside you. But when the DJ put on "Country Roads," she said the bar went still for a moment or two, and then everyone started singing along with the song.
When the song reached the words "West Virginia," a lot of people would yell it at the top of their lungs. And then, when the song ended, there was crazy cheering, and a few seconds later, it was back to business as before. Like a switch had been flipped.
"It was the most incredible thing to be part of," Caitlin said. "Almost like one of those choreographed flash mobs, except it wasn't."
Caitlin's story got me to thinking about all the things I love about this state. We aren't like anywhere else.
A few months back, I was at the Kanawha Mall with my friend Shannon Ahern, who moved here from New York City. She and I had been inside the mall longer than we'd planned, and when we returned to her car, it wouldn't start. Within minutes, a Radio Shack employee was trying to help, and then came Mark Holmes, whose nephew lived near us years ago. Mark called a friend who knew cars, and others stopped to help, too.
The thing is -- in West Virginia, that's the norm. Not the exception.
When my husband's grandmother was in her 80s, she decided to move from Los Angeles to Morgantown, and drove across country herself. She hadn't been in Morgantown more than a week when she miscalculated the width of a narrow road. Her tires dropped over the edge, causing her car to be stuck.
When she stepped out to assess the situation, she saw four women rushing over from a nearby beauty shop. They'd seen what had happened and were coming to help. These four women lifted her car back onto the road.