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  • Writer's pictureseimaistato

On the moonlit swing

Fayetteville, West Virginia - July 2023

I had met Cristina in a hostel in Key West.

A special soul, always with a kind word and a smile for everyone. I was immediately struck by the spontaneity with which she struck up a conversation and was genuinely interested in other people's stories. Never in a hurry, she always found time for a chat and a smile.

We had decided to meet again halfway in West Virginia, also known as the 'wild and wonderful state'. We were waiting for each other at the airbnb, Debra's guests.

The next morning we started the day with an adrenaline rush by rafting a large portion of the New River Gorge, the river that bisects the national park valley. The history of this area is very much linked to coal mining, and in the calmer parts of the river you could see the rails of the old railway. There were class 3 and 4 slopes, which means only one thing: water in the face. Too funny.

A day's hiking on the Endless Wall Trail led us to meet an excellent climber and then to Diamond Point, from where we admired the gorge carved by the New River Gorge in all its beauty. We sat on the rocks next to a couple who had been camping since the afternoon. She was trying to imprint the majesty of the valley with chalk on her pad, while he read quietly. We chatted and listened to their stories, then resumed walking in the direction of home.

Cristina prepared refreshing drinks with lime and mint that I tried to replicate throughout the summer without ever matching the goodness of the ones she had prepared, with immense affection. After dinner we liked to go home and enjoy the coolness of summer evenings on the patio swing: like in the movies, in the moonlight, lit by fireflies. We talked about life, about change: she was a swimming instructor and had decided to find her way in Key West, Florida, working for a company that organised eco-tours. I was enlightened by her desire to do and get involved, to not necessarily be tied to a place, but to do something that made her feel more stimulated and more in line with her values. To this day she tells me that it is not easy, but it is not for everyone to step out of their comfort zone to thrive (the Americans would say): and my friend, I see you blossoming. You have taught me so much and I am deeply grateful that our paths have crossed.

West Virginia
Rafting nel New River Gorge
A bit wet
New River Gorge
Rafting group
Fayetteville, West Virginia
Around Fayetteville
Fayetteville, West Virginia
The iconic bridge
Fayetteville, West Virginia
A fresh drink

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