Love Letter to Richmond

Goodbye to you, dear city of mine. But first, let me thank you. Let me acknowledge how much I used to hate you and then, somehow through the years, I fell so deeply in love with you that you became a character in my life. The comforting presence of your people and culture, dysfunctional and messy though we are, is beauty to me. 

You are the place where some of my best memories live, where summer days and Christmas nights spent with all of my beloved late grandparents and countless cousins were the candy of life. You are where my special grandma was raised and lived and died, but not before she left her stunning mark on my eight-year-old life. You are where I returned with my mom and sisters at age 16. 

You are the place where I experienced my first love with all the joy and exquisite ups and downs of first love, and you are where I lost my first love and experienced a true broken heart. 

You are where I gave birth to my one and only child, where I learned what it was to love another human with a fierceness that overcame me. You are where I watched my baby grow and form her unique personality. Your parks are where my little girl and I ran and played and picked flowers and slid down slides over and over. You are the place where bedtime was fun and games and comfort and the best memories were made. You were the setting when I sent her to kindergarten for the first time, and when I watched proudly, sadly, lovingly, as she walked the stage to accept her high school diploma. You witnessed my pride and grief and excitement and sadness as I sent my baby off to college. And you were present as I groped about afterwards to figure out what to do with myself as I adjusted to an empty nest. 

You comforted me with your presence when that same child, at 20, informed me that she was moving to Disney World to work and finish school. Your city sounds and sights and rushing river soothed my spirit.  

You are where I found treatment after years of intense emotional suffering, in a sweet little brick building where inside was the miraculous therapist and treatment that saved my life and helped me find relief I had sought for so many years and in so many ways. You have seen my continual falls and major screw-ups, and you have been here as I get back up each time and keep fighting. 

You watched me marry at 19, then divorce. You watched me marry again, then divorce again. You were here when I felt like the biggest failure in every way in the history of the world. 
You were the setting where I fell in love with a woman, the love of my life. You are where I married her in front of loyal and loving and excited friends and supportive family. Your sidewalks are where I wandered as I came to terms with my sexuality, where I lost my faith and found it again in a whole different way. Your city lights and quaint hiding places have borne witness to my realization that God is bigger and greater than the searing condemnation I received after coming out, and where I learned the mystery and beauty and deep, unfathomable love of God. 

You are where we found our best friends and our best neighbors, all of whom became family to us. The joy they have brought into our lives is immeasurable, and how lucky were you, my little city, to be the setting of such love and connection. 

You are one of my best friends…your trees astound me in the fall, are cozy with Christmas lights in the winter, and shield me from scorching heat in the summer with their lush, green canopies. Your pollen has made me miserable every spring for decades but the gorgeous blooms you offer almost make it worth it. Your river calms me and excites me all at the same time. Your museums have been a source of learning and entertainment and escape. Your food scene is now known all up and down the east coast and I’m so proud of you for it! Your people momentarily infuriate me and then quickly remind me how lovely humanity is. Your grittiness is my favorite. You try to be refined, and there are parts of you that are surely more refined than others, but you cannot get rid of the grit, and I love you for it. 

Thank you isn’t enough. But thank you. Thank you for a lifetime of memories, and 26 years of residence. Thank you for being the backdrop to my most joyful moments and also some of my saddest. Thank you for making the mundane moments somehow comforting. I’ll miss you and you will always be home. If I fall in love with my new city, no need to worry – you will never lose your status as the home of my heart. I love you, Richmond. 

Melissa recently moved to Raleigh, NC and is doing her best to make room in her heart for her new city. Richmond will always be home.

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