Home of the WD SeaFood Festival!
I really need to do a better job of taking pictures of people…
This is where a picture of my family would be… if i had taken one.
Returning as an adult, it is difficult to encapsulate a place, like a hometown – a place so formative yet increasingly distant in memory and context. To anyone passing through – besides the fact that they are clearly lost – Poquoson is a small town (technically a city), not much more than a suburb, but like any hometown, there are depths in the details; in the back roads; in the history. If you angle your head just right, you can see through the surface at what the town is really like.
But the difference between Poquoson, incorporated city in southeastern Virginia, and Poquoson, my hometown is growing up on Poquoson Avenue, playing baseball and getting lost in the marsh because the tide rolled in midday. At some point a child crosses a point where things stop happening to him or her and she or he starts writing the story. And the backstory takes decades to flesh out. Draft after draft, the story never quite coalesces with whatever actually happened at the beginning (or even along the way). And if it did, the dissonance would be nauseating. Like diving into Your Life: Unabridged – a 50,000 page thunderous volume of fact irreconcilably infused with monumental fictions. Now start at the back cover – Appendix viii or the Author’s Note – and try to remember what happened at the beginning. Reading sentences and paragraphs backwards, all context is lost. If you could read it, and understand what was left there, it wouldn’t matter anyway. The author only puts down what he or she thinks are the interesting bits, or what they think are the most informative details, when they themselves don’t actually have any idea. And then there are the blank pages with just a dot or nothing at all.
So what I can actually articulate about Poquoson, VA – the concrete facts – have little bearing on what the place is to me, but here are the tangible, true details of my hometown in two succinct paragraphs:
My parents, who are awesome, sacrificed a lot to move us to Poquoson so we would all have a good education at a decent public school and, with any luck, go to college and be successful. Mission accomplished: a Newport News policewoman (sister), a pharmacist (brother) and an Editor’s Assistant (me).
Poquoson is below sea level. It floods. Frequently. There are enormous, life-ruining mosquitoes. There used to be one stop light. Then they built a McDonald’s. Now there are two stop lights. The High School mascot is a bull. It’s called the ‘Bull Island,’ and the locals are called ‘Bull Islanders.’ I still don’t know why, and I’ve never seen livestock in Poquoson. But there is a seafood industry – crabs – and if you look out across the bay from the point, you can see Langley Air Force Base (and likely hear a few jets rumbling above).
But there are also views like this: