Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Movin' On Up

Home is where the what is? Discuss.

I've been here for three decades, which, as any native Richmonder will tell you, doesn't make me anything more than an extended come-here. A long-term transplant at best.

More than a few times, someone has been talking to me, only to pause and ask quizzically, "You're not from here, are you?" My lack of a drawl gives me away every time.

But my Dad was born and raised here and that combined with my Mom's Washington D.C. upbringing ensured that I eventually felt comfortable living a southern life. At this point, I've got long-time friends and extensive job histories here.

I kid you not, a friend once described me as being "part of the fabric of RVA." He exaggerates, but still.

Hell, I make my living based on knowing what goes on here. You might even say I'm a common law Richmonder after all these years.

So why in less than a week have two different people tried to convince me to leave Richmond?

You should be in Washington again, one insists, a bigger city more suited to the breadth of your interests with a greater variety of people. Have you ever considered Charlottesville, the other probes, for an overdue change of scenery and a wholly different vibe that might suit you better than you know?

Um, let's see, between the four road trips in eleven days and two more in the offing, no, I can't say I've had the time to consider whether a more permanent change of scenery is in order.

Here's the problem with that. I get home from one of these trips and I fall effortlessly back into Richmond.

Like tonight, I unpack, answer a few emails, change clothes and head out. Nothing fancy, just a mile-long walk over to My Noodle right around sunset, weaving and bobbing between the scores of VCU students clotting the sidewalk.

Taking up residence at the bar, I pull out my Washington Post, order a Cool Hand Lucas (a spicy libation of aged Thai rum, pineapple, tangerine chile, cilantro and egg white), my favorite broccoli and chicken entree and lose myself to a soundtrack that starts with Sly and the Family Stone, moves through Al Green and is belting Stevie Wonder when I finally leave.

Walking home along Grace Street in the dark, I see a sign in front of the Grace Street theater advertising "Free movie tonight 7 p.m.," a reminder that the VCU Cinematheque series has started up again screening the kind of well-crafted films that all good film students are required to see.

I knew it was happening, but I'd gotten home too late to make the start.

Further down the street, I spy a large room inside one of the new dorms full of couples - hands clasped, arms around each other, standing inches apart - listening intently as a teacher explains the finer points of salsa dancing.

Everyone in the room looks sincerely interested, eager even, in what comes next.

A couple of students walk by, see the dancers and one begins singing, "I salsaaaaa, you salsaaaa, let's salsaaaa..." at the top of her lungs as they make their way up the block.

You're just so damn charming, Richmond. That's how you suck people in.

No comments:

Post a Comment