Even after being away from Northeastern Pennsylvania’s scarred mine fields for several years, I am sometimes still amazed by the genuine joy for life people here in South Florida have compared to the those back home. It is an attitude and outlook I try hard to mimic, but it can be difficult when raised in a world in which the bleakness of winter pales in comparison to the bleak generational pessimism the permeates the very soul.
I tell Sunny what happened. I don’t know why I choose now. Perhaps it is the view, the tranquility, I don’t know, but I open up.
Quietly, she listens. When I finish telling her, she moves from her seat across the table and sits next to me. She kisses me with an affection I have never felt and tells me she loves me.
I’m not sure how I have gotten so lucky. I survived the trauma of being abused by a trusted member of our community and watching my big sister taken away from me.
I managed to escape the hopelessness of a dead coal region.
I made my way to a career in an Eden.
I found an incredible woman.
We sit for another hour. My arm around her shoulder. Her head nestled against my chest. No words spoken. We look out over the ocean.
Sunny is the only living person who knows what happened.
Out the window of the small jet I stare. The skies become gray. The ground below is scarred and dotted with waste from a long dead coal industry. I don’t need the pilot’s announcement to let me know we are nearing AVP. The jet begins a steep downward trajectory. Culm rises up to meet us as we hit a tarmac that is just short of hell.