What You Learn When You Leave Richmond
Words by: Christine Erickson
After graduating from VCU in the spring of 2011, Christine Erickson promptly packed her bags and headed to the city of her dreams, New York City. Once in New York, Christine landed an internship at mashable.com which eventually lead to a promotion as full time features writer at the renowned media news website. On the anniversary of her departure from Richmond, Christine writes a letter to the charming southern city that she once called home.
Nearly a year ago, I left you for New York City. I lived in Virginia my whole entire life, and I had a pretty successful run there. But I thought it was time to challenge myself and see what I was capable of.
In 2006, I was accepted into VCU and moved to Richmond. The first night there I cried my eyes out. It was different, I knew all of three people and I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life.
Throughout my time in Richmond, I learned how kind and supportive people can be when you feel alone. My group of friends and familiar faces accumulated quickly, and to this day, I still talk to plenty of them. Some have moved on and others weren’t as kind. I learned how important it is to rely on others, even when I wanted to be completely independent. Even when you’re facing what might be the most painful moments of your life, there is a sense of community that I’ve yet to find anywhere else.
Over and over again, I’ve heard people say how small Richmond is. Everyone knows everyone. You can’t go anywhere without running into a friend, or a friend of a friend. It used to bother me too. Now, I live in a city where people say they bump into each other just to feel something. That may be a little dramatic, but there is not the same familiarity.
New York is a beautiful, brightly-lit, opportunistic, whirlwind of a city that will sweep you right off of your feet. Never in a million years would I imagine myself living here and fulfilling my dream job. In fact, if you knew me a little more than a year ago, you would have heard me say it myself that moving to the city is a cliché. It’s an amazing place to be, but it will never be home.
In a year, I have survived on my own, traveled, met celebrities, drank on rooftop bars I could never afford, got lost a million times, landed my dream job, ate on a budget tighter than when I was in college, drank in bars until 4 a.m., strolled through protesters, and a million other things that I would never have done in Richmond. But the grass is truly greener on the other side. None of that matters because I have the greatest support system in the world back in Virginia and that’s more valuable than any glamorized moment I’ve experienced here so far.
Because the truth is, I whole-heartedly enjoy drinking in bars for less than $5, and riding my bike down Floyd while cursing every bump in the road along the way, and risking my life by getting in and/or near the James River, and getting excited about a flying squirrel, and explaining why I purposefully go to a questionable man-made lake for fun, and people watching on a giant front porch, and thinking about what I’m going to wear in case I run into Brian and his camera. The list goes on and on.
Richmond is a wonderful city, and New York City has nothing on it. Don’t let the green grass fool you.
I’ll see you again soon.