Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Verdict Is In: My Most Successful Love Affair

Nobody expects love to be perfect.

Well, I did at one time, but I think I was 12. Oh no, wait, 11. By the time I'd turned 12 Richard H. laughed at me in 6th grade when I expressed my undying devotion in the auditorium before the day's classes started in middle school.

Your loss, dude.

Since then, I've just expected it to be somewhat less than the excrutiating anguish of, say, a full afternoon of waxing.

Hey...keep your expectations low.

Despite this strategy, most of it has been kind of on par with said grooming torture.

Then I watched this really silly video...

...and realized I'd been in love for 16 years. Well, maybe 14. Took me a couple of years to warm up to the idea.

Richmond: I love you.

There. I said it.

Has it been easy? Hell no!

Everybody's been with the one who you can't take to the party because of all of the embarrassing stuff in their pasts that seems to keep coming up. (Oh God, the New York Times. Really? Yes, yes, New York friends. I live in that Richmond.)

So, I was watching this video of a couple of bank dudes, off work in their skinny jeans and tats, and it started me thinking about the whole thing. I was at first annoyed, then bemused, and by the end I was seeing stars and hearts, bouncing around my home office like Pepe Le Pew.

And they didn't even hit most of my favorite things about my adopted city.

I'll save the infuriating stuff for a later day. (There's plenty). I'm trying to impress you with the object of my devotion, ya'll.

In no particular order:

The Kids
Richmond is home to a major university, 2 important colleges, a medical college and a whole lot of 20-somethings who started college and just decided to hang out instead. Most of these institutions are in the city proper giving it an energy that frankly sizzles. Keeps me young.

The Old Guard
Yeah...sometimes the FFVa (first families of Virginia) get on my last nerve trying to hold on to that precious Southern past (let's face it wasn't that great except for your bunch). But there is something truly inspiring about the dedication of this class to keep Richmond looking like the majestic city it is. If it weren't for them, there would be an Applebee's Downtown. Give them their props. Pat their bow ties. It's great to live somewhere where seersucker is worn without irony.

The Food
I'm almost embarrassed at our choices of fine food and in this town. What impresses me even more is the bloodthirsty debate that ensues every time someone starts recommending restaurants. (Surely a future blog post). The fact that people get so riled about a subject that most people in other towns spend as much time considering as their daily shower is a beautiful thing. Why are all these phenomenal foodie people and restauranteurs here? I have no idea.

Having not visited every city on earth, I cannot verify that Richmond is the most beautiful city in the Spring that exists. But if I were a poker player and I had Richmond's Spring as a hand (complete with that Ace-in-the-Hole-Everybody's-Party Easter Parade we have every year) I'd bet my life savings, such as it is.

To quote my best friend comedian Lord Carrett, "Welcome to Richmond! Where if you fell off a horse in the Civil War, you're somewhere blocking traffic." I'm cool with the driving hazards. My favorite image of the city which I see a few times a year is two birds perched on the ears of Stonewall Jackson's horse on his monument.

Public Spaces
Everybody's got a big back yard in Richmond. Doesn't matter if you live in the dinkiest little studio in the Fan. Between the greenway running down the center of Monument Avenue to Maymont Park to Byrd Park, if you want a few minutes to yourself with nature: it's yours. Safe, clean, uncrowded and beautiful.

I've met the best friends of my life in this city. From the sweatiest house-painter to the flakiest artist, the most sarcastic bartender to the savviest lawyer. And it's the kind of city where they could all, in fact, be the same person. Yep. It's weird like that.

Which brings me to my favorite thing about Richmond of all....

Much like the best life partner one could hope for: Richmond allows you to be yourself.

If you're unhappy here...well I'm sorry to say, it's your own fault. I was pretty unhappy here for the first two years, but it was because I refused to see that everything I needed was here for the asking. And most of it free of charge or very, very cheap.

And Richmond is still small enough, still needs enough work, that you can be an active part of any change you want to make in it. There's no challenge in a partner who's perfect.

Here's to growing together for a very, very long time.

(We are not registered as of yet, but are accepting gift certificates to any locally owned businesses or restaurants. Thank you for celebrating with us!)

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