My first real visit was to Carytown right before Christmas; the next time I came up, I hung out in an old seminary hidden away in Ginter Park. I didn't have much money, but I was certainly charmed.
When I moved up, I tried really hard not to fall in love. I tried to keep the city at arm's length. I couldn't afford to do otherwise. Do you know how heartbreaking it is to live in a great town and not be able to afford to see a lot of the best parts? I tried ignorance. And ignorance was only mildly blissful, because deep down, I knew what I was missing.
My first job with the temp agency was at Old City Hall. I was awestruck - I worked in a castle! Overlooking Capitol Square! I got to hang out with some serious history, every day. I could poke around the financial district with the lunch carts and the dignified architecture. Revelry! I was there when the mayor had that insane meltdown with the school system, too.
I moved into a great neighborhood on Northside. I got married, and my husband moved in. The rent is more than we should be trying to pay, but the giant yard and the low (basically zero) crime and daily little pleasures that this part of town bring make it worth the pinch.
I kept my head in the sand as long as I could. But somewhere along the way, Richmond snuck into my heart. I love this city. I love the Main Street Station and Capitol Square. I love the farmers markets and the way the Sauer factory smells. I love the quirky VCU students and the fact that it took me a year to figure out the difference between Richmond and Henrico. I love that the White House of the Confederacy is jammed in the same area as a huge university/hospital and an interstate. I love the canal and the annoying cobble stone streets. I love all the art/design companies in converted warehouses and the quiet atmospheric restaurants and breweries and book shops. I love the huge support for the local nonprofit network. I love the way the city clings to history and the way it invests in local politics.
I love Richmond. I don't know how it happened, but I am 100% in love with this town I call home, and I wish I could stay here a long, long time.