I and my erstwhile Traveler Owls have completed indentured servitude in “beautiful” Western Pennsylvania and find ourselves on the road again. Itinerant artists and writers rarely call any one location home for long, but Charleroi, PA proved far too lengthy for our tastes.
Much like the borough’s name, living here evokes the sense of being trapped in perpetual night, forlorn inhabitants shuffling down the street no matter the hour, resigned to their fate of never mustering means of escape. But perhaps you enjoy drizzly gloom and rust flecks wafting through your bedroom window; maybe you never realized your dreams of living in third world squalor could be realized without a valid passport.
Whenever conversation with an indigenous Pennsylvanian happened, without fail the question of “Why on Earth would you move here?” arose. The rapidity and emphatic tone often heightened to disturbing levels when they learned Florida was our point of origin. The Sunshine State, for all its concrete jungle, cockroaches, and choking Africa-hot weather, serves as pure wonderment compared to crack deals, unemployment, urban decay, and misery.
This region died years before we arrived. The municipalities fund themselves through parking and street sweeper tickets. Shops and homes stand closed, some for durations easily measured in decades. Real estate is cheap, but most Americans would prefer to simply invest in a used Toyota and sleep there–likelihood of rodent-borne disease seems far lower.
Through all of this shiny landscape, however, I managed to finish the manuscript on volume two of World’s Enough Cycle. Dead Men Say No Prayers will be e-published as soon as we Owls find a new home.
“Where?” you might ask.
Half a continent away, at least.
If my ongoing saga’s second volume proves dingier, or filled with a more palpable seediness, perhaps Charleroi, PA worked its way into the text. I suppose, in that light, our time here proved beneficial. Even if only to reinforce what we already knew the moment we first laid eyes on the Monongahela river: We should leave. Now.
Then again, as political rallying cries go, where else can you find gems like this?