COLLEGE students can have some crazy dreams, and my lifelong best friend and I had one in the 1970s.
We were roommates at Virginia Tech. Her studies combined home economics and business, with an emphasis on fashion. I was an English major. Feel free to roll your eyes.
With no concrete strategy, our plan was to end up in Paris. I would be a foreign correspondent for some major publication. She would be a fashion designer.
This did not happen.
I came back to Charleston, where we both had grown up, right after graduation. After a brief teaching stint in Virginia, she came home, too.
And here we remain.
She held several jobs before landing with one of the Kanawha Valley's biggest employers. She has risen through the ranks to become a top executive. I recently passed the 35-year mark with the Daily Mail.
Neither of us spills tears of regret into our moonshine.
We lead satisfying lives and feel lucky to have been able to pursue careers while remaining close to family. About once every five years, we recall that Paris plan and laugh.
This week the Daily Mail published a poignant essay by a displaced West Virginian who did follow up on such a dream. Jason Headley, now 38, made his way to California, where he apparently is happy now, but he misses his home state terribly.
He wept as he left but felt a tug he couldn't resist.
We sought permission to run the piece after coming across it on the Internet, where it has attracted tens of thousands of readers and hundreds of comments.
Some people saw it as an indictment of West Virginia. This obviously bright young man had to leave because his prospects here were dim.
That was not my interpretation.
In every state, and likely in every country, young people dream of an exotic elsewhere.
This is not West Virginia's problem.
Rather than wring our hands over how to hang onto our children, we should encourage them to do the best they can for themselves, wherever that may take them.
My brother and his wife left Charleston a short time after college graduation. They went to Baltimore, Houston, London and back to Houston. They've led interesting lives, but they, too, miss West Virginia.