Photo by: Trevor Dickerson
I was born in Richmond, Virginia. You know… “The Old South” and “the former seat of the Confederacy” where our “sepia-toned legacy” watches honeysuckle grow, and thinks even then time is moving too quickly.
My childhood was lovely (and definitely included honeysuckle hunting with my little brother). Open fields, wild flowers, summer reading, digging for Civil War bullets with bare hands in our front yard, church every Sunday (white hose with ruffled socks, and little old ladies in flower-print dresses). Gigantic trees. Loud bugs. Driving 30 minutes on winding roads to pick up milk. This was my life.
But then, I grew up and Richmond transformed itself before my very eyes. I saw things I had never seen in Richmond before: Taxis, tall buildings, creative, innovative, modern architecture, new business models, off-the-wall and out-of-the-box ideas. People who ask the right questions which lead to amazing results; people with brilliant ideas and the confidence to execute them. Richmond was in a river of change: new refreshing, daring, collective change. I have so enjoyed watching people make things happen for our city! I have squealed when I see Richmond, VA show up in the New York Times or on television! This city, my hometown, is being noticeably amazing every single day. How lucky am I to have been born and raised here, while getting to see all of this progress.
Since I’ll be leaving Richmond for a little while to finish my Masters, I’ve been very reflective on my love for Richmond. Thus… I wrote a love letter to RVA!
I know we had a rough start. I was only a few minutes old, and I had no idea who you were or what the heck you were capable of. But along the way, you have captured my whole heart. And here’s how…
I love everyone you put into my life. I had public school teachers who inspired me, and dared me to believe in my talent. They challenged me, encouraged me, and held me to very high standards. They chipped away, added, and polished who I was as an individual for years. I also love everyone you placed into my life that made my life difficult. You know, the haters. The ones who didn’t believe in me, tried to break me, embarrassed me, or crushed me. Those people made me stronger. I see now they were strategically placed in my life at perfect times to make me stronger; to make me discover the strength within me. Thank you for everyone I fell in love with, even if it didn’t work out. I still carry their hearts with me. Also for my parents. My mother, who is still teaching Richmond, VA’s lovely children as a teacher in the public school system. My father, who taught me to be social, friendly and funny, and who has been working with Philip Morris since the day I was born. He taught me to work hard, even through the tough times. My grandfather, who I watched preach every Sunday and who inspired me to read, study and share my discoveries with others. My grandmother, who has rocked hundreds of Richmond, VA babies to sleep in the nursery of churches all over Richmond. Her comfort and peace is unmatchable. My family, my very large and beautiful family, for which, Richmond, serves as our home base.
I love how you stay so strong and stable, but you’re willing to be flexible. You are always growing, even when that comes with growing pains. You may not always make the right decisions, but you’re willing to listen. And if you don’t listen the first time, you’re willing to try again at another time. The people here have strong opinions, and you know that. You secretly love that, and I love that about you. At the end of the day, you still stand strong. The river keeps flowing, the sun lowers itself to rest, and the people relax. You are the gravity our spirits need.
I love how you are home to so many small businesses and big businesses. You welcome people’s ability to dream and celebrate with them as they put up an “open” sign on day one of their dream business. I’ve seen the sparkle in business owners’ eyes as they watch their business grow. You help nurture that energy and productive flow. You have venues that hold people who share ideas and create new ideas to celebrate. I so appreciate that about you.
You know what’s important. Races for charities. People hanging off buildings for fundraising. Conferences for learning. Festivals for music, beer, Irish people, everything. Wine tastings. Poetry readings. Art shows. Fashion shows. You know how to celebrate a good thing, and that is an important quality in a city.
You don’t make mountains out of mole hills. Well, actually… sometimes you do. Sometimes you can be a little dramatic… but we all have rough days.
Most importantly, you keep me inspired and you keep me happy. I love this city: the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the obnoxious, the unforgettable. I’m going to miss you while I’m gone. Hold on to your spirit and your drive. Keep pushing for progress and success.
And don’t you worry…
I’ll be coming home.
Love always and eternally grateful,