When I was growing up, you could drive two hours south and be in the Old Confederacy, complete with Dixie flags flying everywhere and on the bumpers of half of the pick up trucks on the road.
You could drive two hours north and be in the middle of the Rwandan genocide, complete with Hutus we called “Crips” and Tutsis we called “Bluds” all shooting at each other every day.
You could drive two hours west and be in John Denver country. The Blue Ridge mountains are God’s country and my true spiritual homeland.
Ironically, the song “Country Roads” was actually written about a road in suburban Maryland. That road still exists but it may as well be a road going to Tokyo considering how urbanized and overbuilt it is. But once it was really a country road.
The road eventually goes into Bethesda, Maryland, which I wrote about before. It’s one of the wealthiest cities in the area and very connected to the Imperial power center. Bethesda, Maryland will always have a special place in my heart because it’s where I lost my virginity.
I could get to the DC Metro and take the train all the way north to Bethesda, get out and walk to her house. Her parents were rich with a huge mansion. The cultures could have been more different.
She had blue eyes and blonde hair and her parents were typical “WASPs” except unlike my parents, they were uber-liberal. They would let us have sex in her bedroom and then serve us tea afterward.
R.E.M’s Mike Mills wrote “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville” as part of his effort to convince his then-girlfriend Ingrid Schorr not to return to Rockville, Maryland, where her parents lived.
As Schorr explains, real-world Rockville is just about the opposite of the hopeless country-song factory town that Mills paints it to be, but hey, love plays tricks on the mind.
Um, my parents sure as hell were not like that. Neither my mother nor my father were naive and perfectly aware of what teenage boys and girls like to do together, but I was told quite bluntly that if I wanted to have sex, I had to get my own place. Sure I could bring a girl home to introduce her to my mother but I couldn’t take her to my bedroom, much less close the door.
My other girlfriend said her mother told her, do whatever you want just keep your panties on that way you won’t make any “mistakes.”
Looking at your watch a third time Waiting in the station for the bus Going to a place that's far So far away and if that's not enough Going where nobody says hello They don't talk to anybody they don't know You'll wind up in some factory That's full-time filth and nowhere left to go Walk home to an empty house Sit around all by yourself I know it might sound strange but I believe You'll be coming back before too long At night, I drink myself to sleep And pretend I don't care that you're not here with me 'Cause it's so much easier to handle All my problems if I'm too far out to sea But something better happen soon Or it's gonna be too late to bring you back Don't go back to Rockville, don't go back to Rockville Don't go back to Rockville and waste another year It's not as though I really need you If you were here, I'd only bleed you But everybody else in town only wants to bring you down And that's not how it ought to be I know it might sound strange but I believe You'll be coming back before too long Don't go back to Rockville Don't go back to Rockville Don't go back to Rockville And waste another year
But now, Northern Virginia looks like the suburbs of Bombay or New Dehli or even Istanbul.
They have to go back.