Easy to Love?

The City of Richmond ran a marketing campaign at some point in the last several years using the slogan “Easy to Love.” I believe it was meant to be a reference to the fact that we are the capital city of the state for lovers (Virginia is, you know). I used to smirk a bit at the signs, because while I do believe that Richmond is loveable, I’m not always sure that this love comes so easily.

I’ll confess that I’ve pondered moving to nearly any city I’ve traveled to in the last few years. In Philadelphia I dreamed of walking to the Reading market and picking up fresh ingredients for dinner or nestling in for coffee and Amish-made pastries on a lazy Saturday. In Seattle I imagined packing up my laptop for the day and settling into the writer’s room at in their architecturally fantastic public library. If I lived in Denver I could eat pickles and drink amazing beer at Euclid Hall everyday. In New York I would never have to drive. From Birmingham (UK) I could take day trips to Bath and have pub lunches and Sunday dinners with good friends.

In these short little snippets (one night-stands, if you will) it is easy to love all these places. But if I were in it for the long haul, would I feel any differently about them? I am guessing not. (Save for being close to good friends in Birmingham – which would always be lovely). I’m sure if I stayed more than a week, I’d have to work a little harder. And I would likely have days that I found myself dreaming of other places.

And days when I fell in love all over again. Sort of like this past weekend in Richmond. Friday happy hour at the Camel with a great local band (The Southern Belles) and great prices on craft beers (hello, $3 Allagash White). Saturday trip to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for lunch in the cafe and the Elvis at 21 exhibit. Dinner that evening was amazing small plates at Pasture.

And while the activities of the day were enough to make me remember what I love about Richmond, it was all the stuff in between that really solidified it. The couple that was leaving just as we arrived and the Camel and graciously offered us their seats. The woman at the Elvis exhibit who shared with my Mom and I that she had attended his show at the Mosque (now Landmark) that was featured in the photographs. The familiar terrain of my neighborhood as we walked to dinner; waves from store owners and bartenders. The waiter at Pasture who was in my graduate program with me. My excitement over the success of a local chef’s new venture after frequenting his other restaurant (Comfort) for years.

And that’s just it, cities aren’t loveable because of what goes on in them. They are loveable because of our connections to them. Sometimes those connections take some work, certainly some time, to develop. And maybe it’s the not being easy that makes it all the more rich in the end.

*Need suggestions for connecting with Richmond? Check out my Jackson Ward neighbor’s blog for ideas. She’s never at a loss for something to do in the city!

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