Saturday, December 31, 2011

Are We Richmonders Yet?

It's official!  We have lived in Richmond for an entire calendar year (and then some).  Feeling like we're part of a community is very important to me.  I love feeling part of a place, as if our lives are woven into the fabric of the landscape and the culture.  In the new places I've lived as an adult, each move is an opportunity to get to know a place, its personality, its skeletons and rainbows.

In 5-1/2 years in Oklahoma City, we really got to know it.  It was the longest I lived anywhere, and it was a close rival for my husband.  I miss it so much.  Especially our dear friends and neighbors and house.  We got a Christmas card from one neighbor named Connie.  She wrote us a great 'update' about our block, and I will admit - I have emotions - and I got upset when she said "I'll always think of the house across the street as your house."  So will I.  :(

This being the 4th or 5th place new place I've lived as an adult, I feel I've been more mindful and strategic about getting to know Richmond.  So here's my breakdown of our year becoming Richmonders:

Family life:  We are card-carrying members of the Children's Museum of Richmond, the Metro Richmond Zoo and I got a Richmond Magazine subscription for Christmas!  We know where all of the indoor mall play areas are!  I read faithfully!  But I hear there are fantastic parks I want to explore!

Neighborhood:  We have found a great, locally-owned respected daycare that we love and grown into.  We know all of our neighbors and have had several gatherings at our house!  I started a Facebook page for our neighborhood which has about 16 members!  We got to know each other so much better during the Hurricane Irene power outage, and have found great friends in a certain family (you know who you are!)

Culture:  This one is sketchy.  I don't feel like I know much about the personality or characteristics of the greater Richmond community yet.  This takes time, I realize, and I think it is easier for folks living 'downtown' as opposed to the 'burbs' where we live.  Living in Chesterfield County, it has a personality of its own - and we live on the edge.  (I've noticed that Richmond is a mesh of kind of disjointed cities/community and that there's some lack of cohesion in identitiy.)  I do, however, know that I live in the Dale District, I know who our representative is and saw him in Arby's the other day!  As the kids get older, we will explore more Uniquely Richmond things - I hear there are great festivals - and with my Richmond Magazine in hand, that is step one!  (Although Richmond magazine so far makes me feel like I lack a certain level of coolness to fit into this city!)

Getting around:  I will admit, I'm still mainly a GPS driver in Richmond.  However, I at least know where major roads are now in relation to each other, and how to get to most places using 64, 94, 195, the Powhite Parkway and the Chippenham Parkway.

Professional Realm:  This is a toughie.  I had a good network of colleagues in Oklahoma and I had a good thing going in my job.  Here, I work with a lot of great people who I'll call colleagues AND friends, but I still feel pretty much like an 'outsider' in the Healthcare community.  Again, this takes time.  Richmond wasn't built in a day.

In sum, I miss the OKC.  I will always be an Oklahoman at heart (Go Sooners!).  And a North Carolinian.  And an East Coaster.  And an honorary Togolese.  But I've been a Virginian longer than I've been anything (if you add up the 3- and 4- year periods) am enjoying becoming a Richmonder and look forward to building our relationship with her in the years to come.

1 comment:

  1. I wish you luck - I lived in Richmond for 15 years and was always treated as an outsider no matter how friendly or helpful I was. I was only accepted and befriended by others who moved to Richmond from somewhere else. But, then again, I am from the Midwest and as such was viewed as a "Northerner"