Sidebar: Right when I sealed the deal to work from home full-time again, I went a little bonkers shopping for new threads for home office life. I stocked up on sheer, floaty maxi dresses and deleted all the pencil skirts and silky trousers I’d added to my wish lists in recent months. I love this dress; however, it wasn’t until photos that I realized how unflattering it was. Ah well.
Which brings me to our evening out, and how little I cared about wearing something flattering out and about in this town I love so much.
A few times recently, people have asked me why I don’t just move back to Florida to be near my family. (Our families; Rob’s parents live across the street from mine.) They’ll say it with this sad yearning in their eyes: “Oh, but you have to move back! They’re all there? You have to,” and I sort of freeze. Believe me, it sucks not being near them. To me, nothing is more important, and I’m well aware of how quickly years slide by when you’re far apart. I want my nieces and nephews to know who I am. And I want to be around my mom and dad.
But when I reach for the right words to tell them why it’s not the right move for me, I fail. Because the reason is completely selfish—yet completely vital to my mental health. It’s like putting on your oxygen mask first—I’m of no use to anyone if I can’t breathe.
And that’s what being here is like—finally being able to breathe.
Above are just a few shots from a rad evening Rob and I had last week. A friend invited us to an outdoor screening of Rock n’ Roll High School in the little yard neighboring our favorite vintage shop—a lot where we’ve been to pop-up markets, just a stone’s throw from Lamplighter Coffee across the street where we’ve gotten hot tea and sat in the sun on freezing Sundays.
Before, we’d been at Joe’s Inn (where I went with my parents after tennis practice when I was a kid to order massive plates of spaghetti, and thankfully they haven’t changed that recipe an iota. Hell, they haven’t changed a thing, except you can’t smoke after 10 in the bar side anymore) for dinner and a couple of draft beers.
After dinner, we grabbed some wine and the blanket that my parents got as a wedding present out of the back of the car and headed off to the screening.
This is not an aberration. This is Richmond. And there are so many things like this happening all the time that I don’t even know about.
It was heaven. It was a reminder I’m still young, and carefree, and happy. It was a reminder that the best things in life are simple, (nearly) free, and effortless. It was everything about Richmond I love.
This is not to say I don’t enjoy a nice dinner out, that’s just not my barometer of fun—how pricey it is, what you’re wearing, where you got a table. I’ve lived places like that—where going out has to mean something. That sort of thing exhausts me.
Every city has culture, pockets of cool, fun restaurants, and character, but there’s a sort of built-in filter here I can’t put my finger on. I know people who live in places where to them, it’s de rigeur to be trussed up, turned out, seeing and be seen for the night to mean something. I know that’s more the person, not the place, but I don’t feel like the Richmond I live in would be their bag. To me, that’s a sign I’m in the right place. We’ve got places to do that, for sure, but if you’re here—and I mean really here, heels dug in and heart sprinkled around it like ashes—you’re not here to make a splash; you’re here for simple, happy good times, to be a part of it in a grateful way, and you’ll come across people just like you.
Moving back here sort of saved my life. And set me free. And I’m just not ready to give that up.
It’s like keeping a sober person out of a bar, but the opposite—being here keeps me around the right kinds of people, and it’s a compass that I feel safer having in my pocket.
Richmond, you’ve got class.