We piled in the car and headed north to the small coal towns of Central Pennsylvania. This is where The Goodbyes takes place. Our plan? Grab some footage of the places mentioned in the book for the book trailer and behind-the-book vlog posts.
During our junior year, my college roommate's parents moved to Glendale, Pennsylvania. Once a month, we'd make the forty minute drive from State College (which seemed like four hours back then) for a real meal. We'd pass through Glen Hope on the way.
When I started writing The Goodbyes, I was thinking a lot about going home and what "home" was to me. This slice of geography served as my surrogate home between term papers and cramming for finals. The next thing I knew, Glen Hope became Webb's hometown.
It really is one of those "sneeze and you'll miss it" towns. Population 142. They have a gas station (with a general store), a small community park (with a baseball field), and a stop sign (4-way). I could have picked one of the larger towns nearby, but I loved the name.
We pulled into the gas station and my husband started filming. My daughter and I went inside. I ordered a "Crick Dog" to embrace the experience. Dressed in my morbid, black uniform that blends in here in D.C., I felt like everyone was staring at me. As the woman scooped a few blobs of ground meat (that she called chili) on my hot dog, she suddenly stopped.
"What's he doing out there?" she asked the cashier.
I followed her gesture and realized she was talking about my husband, crouched behind his tripod, capturing a panorama of the intersection.
"He's with me," I explained. "We're filming a book trailer. I'm an author and the main character in my book is from Glen Hope."
"Oh," she said. "Do you want onions?"
And that was that. Crick Dog lady was unimpressed.
I spend every day surrounded by ambition and name-dropping. It's easy to forget that life isn't always hectic. And that's the beautiful thing about Glen Hope. People aren't what they do, or who they know; they're simply people.
As my husband packed up the camera, my daughter turned to me. "It's so peaceful here," she said.
"Isn't it?" I agreed, finishing off the last of my Crick Dog.