A to Z April Challenge

During the month of April I will be doing a different spin on my memoir posts. It starts with a song. Each song will be followed by a brief essay that is evoked or inspired by that song. You might want to click on the YouTube link to hear the song as you read the piece I've written. Or you can listen to the song lyrics first and then read. Whichever way you choose, I mostly hope you'll read and leave a comment with your thoughts about my post. Thank you for visiting and please follow the blog if you are not doing so already.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Richmond, Virginia

View of Downtown Richmond over the falls of th...Image via Wikipedia

        When I was in middle school in Merrillville, Indiana I was called out of class one day to be introduced to a young man my age who had just moved next door to my family.  Having recently moved from San Diego, California, I was new to the school as well and welcomed the chance to have a new friend in this school where I had not made any friends so far.

         Gordon and his family had moved from Norfolk, Virginia.  It was my first direct exposure to a strong Southern accent and I found it somewhat amusing to hear as did some of the other boys in the neighborhood.  A couple of the boys used to taunt Gordon by imitating the call they would sometimes hear coming from his mother as she called out, "Go-din!"

         My new friend's mother was a sweet lady with the demeanor of a Southern aristocrat. His step father was a soft-spoken man who seemed to be at work a lot.  Gordon was the sole offspring still living at home.  He was full of turmoil and could display a mean streak sometimes, but he had become my friend and I tolerated a lot from him.

          One thing that used to irritate me though was how he was always bragging about Virginia and especially Norfolk.  I don't think I'd ever been to Virginia at that time and perhaps I was a bit jealous since I had thought of myself as well-traveled and here was a place I'd never been.  Besides, Gordon's arrogant attitude about Virginia really bugged me.  I developed a resentment about Virginia.

           By the time I was in my mid-20s, after my family had been living in Tennessee for several years, I had traveled throughout Virginia and had softened a bit about the state, but I still retained this ridiculous distaste for the state.  That is until I met Cathy.

            The young lady who would become my first wife was from Richmond, Virginia and we would frequently go there to stay with her family.  I started making friends there and felt very comfortable with the city when we moved there after Cathy became pregnant.

             Richmond actually is a quite attractive city along the James River and conveniently located along the I-95 corridor which extends from New England to Florida.   The city has broad boulevards with stately memorials honoring heroes of the Confederacy.  History is everywhere.  I began to enjoy living in Richmond.

             After our son was born, Cathy and I began traveling with the World of Fantasy Players in 1978.  Whenever we could we'd stay in Richmond.  Virginia had become a part of me and this was the home of my wife and newly born son.   And now, along with East Tennessee,  Richmond was now a place that I too thought of as home.


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7 comments:

Lynn Proctor said...

come on home anytime--that's where i live---loved your post and pictures :)

welcome to my world of poetry said...

It's great reading this daily. Thanks Lee.

Yvonne.

Nicole said...

It's funny how we tend to assume the worst about some places based on the people from such places that we come in contact with. Reading this post sorta reminds me of New York. I went to middle school with a girl from NY who was very violent and loud and out of control. That coupled with the widespread belief around the country that New Yorkers are rude and mean, I already planned to be robbed or something when I visited New York.

Surprisingly, when I moved down south and met ANOTHER girl from NY, who became one of my very best friends at that time, I saw another part of that city...she was as sweet as could be, as well as her family.

Now as an adult who has been to New York on more than several occasions, I like it and the people better than Philadelphia, PA, I tell ya!

Back to Richmond, Virginia, though, lol....I'm glad that you softened up a bit to it. I've been to Richmond a few times and have enjoyed each visit. In fact, I plan on going there again and found it quite interesting to have come across your blog post on this very town :)

~Nicole

Blog: The Madlab Post
*My Recent A to Z post: R for Russian Roulette*
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Arlee Bird said...

Lynn -- Richmond is a place I could live. It's a nice city.

Yvonne -- Thanks!

Nicole-- It's funny how we can develop misconceptions based on little experience with something. I've had that same stereotypical attitude about New York. There's good and bad people everywhere.

Lee

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee .. our life is built on misconceptions .. so I can see where you're coming from .. anything north of London is anathema to some people!!

Cheers - Richmond looks an attractive place to visit .. Hilary

Wendy said...

Evidently Gordon was a dedicated subscriber to this saying: "To be a Virginian either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any State in the Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from above." We love to slap that on a souvenir and sell it! Thanks for visiting my blog.

Arlee Bird said...

Hilary -- I'm sure you'd enjoy Richmond. It is so steeped in history.

Wendy-- Yep, that quote sounds like Gordon.

Lee