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Essay: From Virginia to New Mexico
The Great Escape
I spent some time at the overlook, in a sunbeam, on a hill on the grass with a friend, looking up at the sky, at the James River digging the last of the autumn leaves. Saying good-bye.
I'm trying to think of what I wont miss. VCU campus traffic may be it. No one knows what to do when, everyone has a, “I do what I want” attitude, and when on my bike, not a day goes by that I either want to kill someone or almost get killed by someone. But, yeah, no, there really ain't much to not love about Richmond, Virginia.
There are many reasons one moves somewhere else I guess. I moved to Richmond for new opportunities and for the vibrant culture. I had been visiting for years. I loved the wild bohemian vibe of RVA. There was always too much to do: rad house shows, bicycle gang events, art exhibitions, ridiculous dance parties, sweet diners and cafés and bars, and meeting so many fun people.
In 2007, I signed the lease and moved into a house in Oregon Hill proper with a group of friends from Danville. Those first years at the Red Love House were mad! So much fun was had raging all over the city, so many laughs at that house, and so many memories of our porch couch and all the antics and adventures we shared. I especially adored Oregon Hill, my shabby-chic neighborhood in the heart of the city, I could walk to the river or to the cemetery or downtown or to campus in no time and could bike almost anywhere else in 10 or 20 minutes. Life here is easy.
One of those easy-living staples is the $100 room. There are always those cheap-rent houses in Richmond with sinks full of dishes, hallways spilling over with bikes, every room rented out as a bedroom. Most of these houses have a $100 room—a shed, or a spot under the stairs, or a closet. I am sitting in my closet room now, the walls are bare and a few boxes contain all the stuff I'm taking with me. In a week I am heading home to Danville for Thanksgiving. I am not coming back to Richmond.
I am not coming back to this city full of friends. Not going to anymore Totally Tight Monday Nights, no more epic doom shows at Strange Matter, or chill folk Sunday nights at Helen's. So long Belle Isle, Byrd Theatre, The Fan. Adios to the awesome life I have made here, The Rear Gallery, a very active film career and a budding art career. I am moving y'all, to New Mexico.
My mentor and I have been talking about Taos for about 8 years now. He has a friend there and could possibly hook me up with a job. I was very interested as I was 30 and had never lived anywhere but Danville. My yearning for experience had me restless and it had always been a dream of mine to move to a place where I didn't know a soul and just make it work. It was just a dream, running off to some other place. I mean, at the time, we were actually at the peak of an exciting art and culture scene in Danville. I was at the top of my game working at the Danville Museum, working at the North Theatre, publishing a 'zine. There were bands and artists in this weird nowhere town really making it an awesome place to be. A couple years later though, it started to fade as many of the young people part of the scene went off to school. I stuck around until I had to flee like a cultural refugee to Richmond.
And so here I am now, 38. I just had the best year of my life. I am feeling good about my art, I am working constantly in film, and I am surrounded by great friends. And I am moving.
When I was offered the opportunity in Taos, I didn't think, I just jumped on it. Totally excited for new adventures, new life experiences, facing new challenges and meeting new people. Yeah, let's do this! But then I started packing. Getting rid of things and selling stuff at my house and my studio. I started thinking about how I won't see my friends all the time. Who will I go to brunch with? Who is gonna bike with me to the show? Will I only know my Richmond friends through Facebook posts? “Why am I doing this?” I wondered.
So I began researching Taos online. Oh wow! Yes, it seems like that chill Shangri-la, artist-centic sacred native medicine land that I remembered hearing of. But, oh shit, they don't have metal shows?! Oh crap. And back and forth.
A week away from leaving Richmond, I am ready. I want it. It is time to take a leap, to go for it, to go somewhere I don't know a soul and just make it work. Life is for living. I have not always succeeded in all I do, but never for a lack of trying. I will try this ride out and see where it goes. Risks are good entertainment. And so, here I go like the fool off the cliff...
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