To Richmond, with love

Last month we put the call out for you guys to show Richmond a little love by writing her a love letter. Here are a few of our favorites…

Last month we put the call out for you guys to show Richmond a little love by writing her a love letter. Here are a few of our favorites.

First, from our very own etiquette expert

Dear Richmond,

I am wholly and irrevocably in love with you. You have always been here, comforting, familiar, and serene, even when all else was in chaos. And though we know each other so well and I could walk your streets blindfolded, I never quite seem to finish exploring you.


Now from a smitten reader…

Commuters ignore your traffic lights and police rest in no-parking zones on their lunch breaks.

Your history, while not always pretty, is apparent everywhere and you are unashamed.

Pockets of poverty and wealth speckle your map like a chaotic Ralph Steadman illustration.

Your cobblestone is treacherous, your alleys fragrant, your summer mosquitoes ferocious.

Freshmen breath life into you each spring and revitalize the homeless with cigarettes and money.

You smell of soft cookies and warm vanilla in the winter, then sticky BBQ and beer in the summer.

Here’s to ten more years of getting lost in your streets, may the affair continue.


And finally, from the one and only John Sarvay of Buttermilk & Molasses fame. Settle in, this one is long but well worth the read…

Dear Richmond,

It’s late. I’m tired. And it seems like a good time to let you know why I’m always acting the way I do when you’re around. You know what I mean. You’re always commenting about it. You said something just the other night when we were out together, remember?

“We’re best friends,” you said, pushing another glass of wine across the table to me, “but I think we’ve spent most of our friendship pretending we don’t want to hook up with each other.”

I think I changed the subject.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about that, and about how I’m always running hot and cold with you — especially when other people are around. Which is strange, since you’ve always been the one I’ve turned to for support and answers and a shoulder when those other cities didn’t work out.

Do you remember when I got back from those two weeks with Minneapolis? It was friggin’ January, for crying out loud, and all I could talk about was how much snow they had and that there was a COFFEE SHOP INSIDE OF A BOWLING ALLEY. For months. And you just listened with that quiet smile on your face. Who’s got the awesome coffee shops and stupidly intense winter weather now?

And then there was Cairo. I think you really thought that one was going to go somewhere, didn’t you? One of the world’s largest, dirtiest, noisiest and oldest cities and I couldn’t tear myself away. You told me you were waiting when my then-wife stepped off the plane after nine days and were stunned that I wasn’t with her. That you pined for another four weeks until I finally came back. I guess it’s easy in retrospect to see past the mysterious allure of a cougar. Especially one from a foreign country.

Not too long after that, New York beckoned. Long weekend after long weekend there. You’d hug me at the airport and remind me that what mattered was that I work on my marriage, and then hug me without a word when I got back. I don’t think you ever said, “I told you so.” Not once.

That might have been the closest thing to a breakup we’ve had, though. I mean, I flew out of LaGuardia the morning of September 10 with a job offer, an apartment lease and plans to make that marriage work. I was leaving you, Richmond. It was a gorgeous morning in New York City, and my heart was filled with hope on the flight home. Well, we both know what happened the next day, and the weeks that followed.

It almost was exactly six months later — the amount of time it takes for the courts in Virginia to process the papers — that I was single again. Single, and falling head-over-heels for Avignon, France. Can you blame, me? It was spring in southern France, and I didn’t speak the language and I was single again. And, God, the food. (Reminds me that growing up, all you had to offer was Chinese, Italian and steakhouses. One sign of how much you’ve changed.)

How good was Avignon? I went back. Better still, I went back with another woman. She’s my wife now, and you’re always talking about what a good couple we make. If I had to guess, I’d say you like her as much as you like me, which makes sense because after Nikole showed up it became easy hanging out with you again.

The past five years have been like those years before Minneapolis, back when I was happy just walking and biking through the Fan — from school to work to punk rock shows. When mugs of coffee coupled with a pitcher of Black and Tan made every night complete. I’m a bit more domesticated now, which is sometimes sad because you’re quite the night owl these days, but we still find ways to connect daily.

And so here we are. Committed to each other in ways we never could have imagined. I own one of your houses, and own a Richmond-based business. I @foursquare my way around your streets regularly, and take delight in introducing some of your quirks to Nikole and our young daughter.

In fact, now that Thea is almost two, I am beginning to see echoes and reflections of my own experiences as a child, growing up with you. Shopping at Ukrop’s together, hanging out at art shows at the Hand Workshop, chasing ducks in Bryan Park, strolling the streets of Northside. Going to punk rock shows with her is on the to-do list. Definitely. Hello, Heks Orekest.

So, a love letter and an apology — all in one.

It doesn’t make up for all the times I’ve been a punk and said rude things about you, but of all the towns and cities — those above, plus San Francisco and Portland and Beirut and Florence and Cologne and Toronto and so many more — I chose you for a reason. I chose you as a place to raise my family and make my career because we’re comfortable with each other, because you still know how to challenge me, because as stuck as you can be in the past (Ukrop’s. Martins. Whatever, let it go already.) you’re always looking for new ways to change. Usually in spite of yourself.

Richmond, I’ve never been as intimate with a city as I’ve been with you — that’s another letter of its own, isn’t it? — and I think it’s time to know how much you mean to me.

I’ve rambled enough, and I realize how strange it is to write a love letter almost entirely about other women, or other cities. But I suppose what I’ve been trying to say, Richmond, is that we hooked up a long time ago.


Now it’s your turn. Leave your love letter to Richmond in the comments. We’ll make sure she gets it.

(And if you’re interested in reading another fabulous letter to our fair city, check out this classic post on Oregon Hill.)

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