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From a Southern Belle to a Quail Bell(e)
By Misty Thomas
When I decided to move to Richmond, Virginia from Atlanta, I had a completely different idea of how things were going to play out in my head. That was in March. I came here expecting a huge change, a complete and total new life with a new job and new friends and new habits and no reminders of the past. Some could say I ran and I ran as soon as I had the chance. Others might envy me, saying that I took a much needed step they could not take because family or children or a significant other were tying them to a place they wish they could escape. I find it difficult to say exactly if I was running away from my past. A past that included bad habits and a boyfriend that I lost due to suicide. My head was ready to go, as was my heart. I knew that Atlanta would always be home to me because of my family and a handful of close friends, but I knew that I had to escape it, if only for a little while.
Occupationally, things did not at all go how I had expected them to go. In the hopes that I would be in a job that paid me well to work with people I trusted, some things did not quite feel right, so I looked elsewhere. I started applying for freelance writing jobs anywhere that I could and landed quite a few. Then one day I decided to look at Craigslist in hopes that I would find something different. Keep in mind, I was training at a new bar and learning to be the new girl...again. This is a rough place to be for a 35 year old journalist in graduate school just trying to get that degree so she can teach. I went straight to the writing jobs in hopes that I would see something that I would be qualified for. I found an ad, and I dug up my old resume from when I was writing at two sites and running my own online magazine and I hit send. Who knew that I would wind up in a position with some awesome women who inspire me everyday?
Let me backtrack really quickly. Before I ended up at Quail Bell Magazine, I started me job at the new bar. It was in a place that I was unfamiliar with, far from my neighborhood, and filled with younger, perkier versions of myself, all of them fighting for position and rank. That was something I have never had to do. I just did my job and I felt like my rewards were earned. I had some early training sessions, so before I would go in, I'd go to the cafe in the same shopping plaza, have lunch and write. I recently found one of the first proclamations that I made to the universe about Richmond, and it's funny because it took this long for me to realize that something or someone really does listen or even read my thoughts.
On April 2nd, I wrote:
“Whole Foods lunch has ended up being more interesting than I expected. To my left there is an older, very educated man who approached me about the book I'm reading. If You See Buddha in the Road, Kill Him. He asked why a 'sweet, young, kind-eyed girl' would be reading a self-help book. He was intrigued and said it looked to him as if I 'were very good at hiding pain.' I was unsure if this were a compliment, but it lead into a great conversation in the beginning of my day. We ended up talking for close to an hour and I learned that he was a retired professor and now a writer. He told me to keep doing what I was doing, asking the universe for things and, karmically, I'd be all right.
In the next few minutes, a couple of older women took his place. They spoke of their trips to Italy and Spain and I sat there and just listened. I would continue to write this and look up at other strangers and smile and watch them dine alone, as I was. I wanted the lonely people to feel comfortable with being alone and enjoy the lunch that they were having. I then heard one of them say that she published another book and was going to do a tour soon. I looked up and asked her about the book, and we just started talking. She told me to never give up on myself and my dreams no matter what. And I feel that, between her and the man before her, the universe is listening.
There are so many signs right now that tell me that moving up here was the right decision for now. Even the women I spoke with said, 'This was no right or wrong decision. You making the decision wasn't a right or wrong choice. REGRET and not making the decision would have been the worst thing anyone could have done.'
This absolutely makes Richmond my new muse and I will conquer the fears and the nerves that I have right now. I will lift my inhibitions and spirits, I will work hard as hell to meet all of my goals here, and I will use the knowledge that I own and not let anything or anyone stop me. Come hell or high water, I will make myself proud and I will fight until there is no fight left in me. TODAY, no more living in the yesterday, because everyday, after all, is beautiful and magical, and if it does not start that way, dammit, I will make it so. I will keep my head up and know that I will take Richmond by storm. It will take awhile, but I have faith that I will do so.”
Yes, that was in April and, funny how this is the first time I have even read over what I had written at the Whole Foods that day. I remember the people I came into contact with like it was yesterday. Since I have written those words, I now have somewhere close to three jobs, two of which involve writing and one bartending. I begin my student teaching in November and I have had people come in and out of my life here in Richmond. Some of the greatest places that I have ever seen exist here and some of the most fascinating people do as well. As my friend tree continues to grow branches, I realize that we build our own lives and our own universe. We call people into it and push people out. It is up to us to decide who stays and who is to go, but the end result is happiness and sharing it with others. I have been incredibly blessed and lucky so far in this city on the James.
As I look back at my words from April, I realize a few things. Some of my greatest works have come out of this city. Some of the greatest legends that I have heard of have come out of this city and some of the greatest people I have had the pleasure of meeting are in this city. Perhaps we do create our own universe and we get what we throw out there. If that is the case, I must continue on this journey to further explore this beautiful and historic city because who knows what is lurking around that next corner of my life. I'll keep you posted!