Back in 2014, I was living and thriving in Louisville, KY. Unexpectedly, health issues forced me to quit my job. My partner suggested we move back to his home town, Montcalm, West Virginia. He told me he was confident that he could find steady employment and promised to take care of us. Off we went.
When we arrived, we moved in with his daughter. She and her partner lived in a trailer park in Princeton. Conditions were not ideal. We didn't even have a bed to sleep in. I was just grateful to have a roof over my head and not have to worry about working so I could allow my body to heal. As the weeks went by, I was finally able to start venturing out of the house and that's when I experienced a little culture shock. People I encountered were generally friendly, but I still had a sense of bewilderment. My partner warned me that a lot of people were not to be trusted. I didn't quite know what that meant being that I grew up in a Catholic home in Cincinnati and was taught to trust everyone. I soon discovered that this was a "get or be got" world in southern West Virginia. Most people were on disability for no apparent reason and were addicted to some kind of drug, mostly opioids.
My partner, of whom I loved and trusted, never actually got a steady job for more than a few months. I signed up for government food assistance so that we could contribute something to the living arrangements. Apparently, his daughter's partner sold drugs to bring in money but they too were on government assistance, as was most of the people I met in the trailer park.
As time went by, I decided that it was time to go back to work. I no longer wished to live the way we were living. There were times when food was in shortage and utilities could not be paid. I could not stand this. I've always made sure that my family and I had everything we needed and more. My partner and I jumped on an opportunity to take over someone's lease to an apartment in downtown Princeton. I walked up and down the street with resume in hand looking for a job. Little did I know, women who walked the streets of Princeton were prostitutes. I was approached a few times, but given my naivety. I was shocked that someone could actually think I was a prostitute!
I managed to land a job working for a very intelligent man that ran several brick and mortar stores that bought/sold gold and silver bullion and jewelry and other unique items. The most interesting thing about this experience was the people I met along the way. Princeton is a very small town, you could call it a village. But again, most of the customers were selling, not buying. People were broke and desperate. Thievery was prevalent.
Meanwhile, my partner was using drugs, and I struggled with trying to pay the bills and support his habit. Eventually, I tired of this and decided I had enough of southern West Virginia. I was able to save some money, buy a car, and move back to Cincinnati.
My experience has taught me that no matter how bad off you think you are, there is always someone out there that has it worse than you. The only thing that really disappointed me is the lack of resources and motivation for individuals in this state to better themselves. I had to get up off of my behind, no matter how bad I felt, and go and get what I knew would enable me to move on and better myself.