It seems as though with every new blog post I write, comes a new apology for not writing! This stretch between posts has been particularly long (I’m sure you all missed me very much). This time, though, I actually have a more legitimate excuse – I was working as Wardrobe Supervisor for a short film, and we worked 12-14 hour days almost every day! It was a great experience, though (you’ll hear more about it in later blog posts for sure), and I can’t wait to get started on another film project.
In the meantime, though, here is the wrap up post for my September 2011 road trip: Richmond, VA. Since I have been back and forth to RVA a few times since September, this post is really a conglomeration of my recent experiences there. Enjoy!
My final stop: Richmond, VA (AKA River City)
It’s hard to decide what to write about this city in which I lived throughout college, and of which I have so many fond memories. But I think I’d like to start with a video that will give you an understanding of what the city’s all about.
One of the reasons I left Richmond, though, was the feeling of non-movement I got from the city. It is very much a city whose inhabitants seem to get stuck in time, to stagnate in their mundane job/happy hour/lamenting about life cycle. Don’t get me wrong, Richmond is a great college town. There are a ton of hip cafés, bars, and hang out spots. There is an amazing park system, and Carytown offers a number of great shops, activities, and even a dollar theater (home to the largest French Film festival in the US)! But when you live in Richmond for a while, it’s hard to get over the feeling that you’ll never get out.
The other day, my feelings were proved legitimate by an article by The Atlantic : The 10 Fastest Growing (and fastest declining) Cities in the World. While it felt good to have my sentiments validated, I felt a pang of sadness to see Richmond listed as one of the 10 fastest declining cities in the world. There’s still that part of me that would love to see Richmond flourishing, to be drawn to return there, to relive the best of my college years in the city I loved. (I know, I know, this is starting to sound uber dramatic. Give me a sec to wax nostalgic. I promise things’ll get funny in a bit).
To be fair, I love visiting the place. I love lounging on the rocks at Belle Isle, and returning to our local haunts to indulge in $6 pitchers of PBR (with friends, of course), tots with hot sauce, and some of the best sushi I’ve ever tasted.
When I arrived in September, my first stop was Chipotle. My friends and I used to go here often after class, and Richmond was the first place I ever really ate here…so it seemed appropriate as a first meal in the city.
I spent the rest of the visit just hanging out. After so much constant travel, it was nice just to be with friends without much agenda for a few days before heading back to Columbia.
In October, I returned to RVA for UR’s Homecoming Football game. My friends Kim, James, Sung, Bailey and I took some lawn chairs, a cooler full of homemade salad and wraps Kim and I assembled the night before, drinks, and a beer coozie necklace (courtesy James) to tailgate before the game. Eventually, we decided we should get some tickets, so James ambled over to the ticket office and somehow commandeered some for free. Our tailgate was cut short by campus police kicking everyone out as the game started, so we moseyed over to the stadium and got settled in. A minute later James had produced a hipflask, and we were receiving glares from more prestigious alumni as we loudly discussed James’s new book/light idea and how to sell it on Etsy.
Later that evening, we headed to a pub called Patrick Henry’s. It’s in a basement off E. Broad St and is the kind of place that feels full with ten people in it, the bartender lets you choose the music off her iPod, and the instant you walk in, you feel like the other patrons are old friends of yours. We sat at the corner of the bar, ordered drinks, and chatted about the day.
An hour or so later, James was talking about the Clash with his new best friends, and the rest of us were taking bets on whether or not James would break his two-week no smoking record tonight (OK, maybe I was just taking bets in my head). All of a sudden this guy appeared at my shoulder, “I like your headband,” he intoned, in what I assume he assumed to be a suave manner.
“Uh, thanks,” I said, not sure where to go from there.
“I’ve just been staring at you across the bar for the last hour,” he continued, “I just think you are beautiful.” He smiled at me vacantly, “I’m Albert, by the way.”
“Oh, uh, thanks. Nice to meet you,” I said, looking around for a little help, “Have you met my friend James?” I motioned to James, who was singing a Clash song with his new buddy. He waved cheerily. I turned my back on the two and returned to chatting with Bailey.
But my admirer was not to be thwarted so easily. He made a snide comment about my iPhone, and ten minutes later we were in an argument about whether or not social media is good for society. Or rather, I was arguing. I’m pretty sure he thought he was flirting.
I argued that though social media can reduce personal interactions with people, it also greatly increases the number of relationships one can maintain. How else would you be able to find little Billy from 3rd grade 15 years later and then maintain a working relationship? Yes, I’m a little biased because I’ve worked in Social Media Marketing and am extremely “plugged in” as they say, but think of all the connections people couldn’t have made in any other way. When I moved to Montreal, I knew no one, but somehow I left feeling like I knew the whole city. How? Social Media.
Albert’s argument was that he’d rather meet people “organically”. He said that social media creates a false, half-assed relationship with someone that is little more than voyeuristic. “What happens when I graduate from VCU med school [he made sure to mention he was attending med school about 10 times throughout the course of the night] and get married and move to Chicago and never see any of my old friends again?” he asked.
“That’s what social media is for!” I protested, “So that you can more easily keep up with the friends you no longer live near, and if it so happens that someone you know has also moved to Chicago, you can look him up and see him in person!”
Albert continued down his contradictory path of confusion, “But see, I’d rather just run into that person at a bar or something than look them up on Facebook first.” I wanted to smack his smug, idiot grin from his face. There is very little I detest more in people than a condescending tone, and very little irks me more than a man patronizing me. Especially when he’s wrong.
I barred my teeth at Albert’s steepled fingers and practically spat into his face, “Chicago is a huge city. The chances of you just-” I made quotation marks with my fingers, “- running into a friend passing through the city are slim to none. Social media is an enabler. Yes, plenty of people use it to live vicariously through others, but when used properly, it can enhance your current relationships rather than deplete them.”
Somehow, despite my best efforts, Albert refused to acknowledge the soundness of my argument. But the bar was closing, and we were being shooed outside. James was still chatting with his new friend – who turned out to be Albert’s wing man – and was smoking a cigarette in front of the bar. He turned to me, “Hey, these guys-” he motioned to Albert and his friend, “-live a couple blocks from here and have invited us over for a bit. You coming?” I rolled my eyes and looked at Bailey. She shrugged. “Yeah, okay, whatever,” I said, following them down the street.
The evening finally ended with Albert telling me various times how attractive he found me and me telling him that “too bad you won’t ever see me again because you can’t friend me on Facebook [and I wasn't about to give him my number].” Apparently Albert saw that as a challenge. The next day, I had received not one, but two emails from Albert to two different email addresses (neither of which I had given him) that read simply:
I want to talk to you . . . sorry that I didn’t get your email.
There was also an attachment. Scanned in on VCU med school stationary, was a handwritten ‘poem’.
Instead of adding my own commentary to this poem, I’d like to share with you a friend’s reaction to the whole situation. Unfortunately, she has requested anonymity, so I can’t give credit where it’s due. But please, enjoy the following.