It has only been about a week since I returned from my much anticipated trip to the States. And you may already know that this trip back home was not just about visiting with friends and family, but it was also an opportunity for me to see whether Richmond still has my heart. (Note: Sorry that I’m not sorry, but you’ll have to read a little further to find out the answer to that question!)
Overall, the trip was a whirlwind of catching up with friends and family. A majority of the time it felt as if there wasn’t nearly enough hours in the day to visit everyone, which is a pretty good problem to have. After several days of catching up with my parents and friends in Norfolk, Va., I drove the familiar route up to Richmond, a journey I’ve made countless times before but this time it felt different.
However, the drive didn’t feel as different or special as I had envisioned. To be honest, I half expected to have this magical romantic comedy-esque moment when I first saw the city’s skyline poking up behind the interstate. In this moment, I imagined I’d have this rush of tears strolling down my face while an epic song played on the radio. Okay, maybe, I didn’t actually think all of that would happen per se, but I did expect to feel an immediate sense of belonging, as if I was exactly where I was supposed to be all along.
Well, none of that happened, at least not instantly. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have a romcom moment.
Despite that, I didn’t lose hope and it actually didn’t take long for me to feel right at home back in Richmond. While there I made sure to visit some of my favorite spots and partake in some of my favorite activities including relaxing in my hammock by the James River, drinking coffee while browsing shops in Carytown and soaking up the stillness of the night at the VMFA Sculpture Garden. I even had the chance to stroll across the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge another time and wander around Forest Hill Park early one morning.
Not to mention, seeing many of my friends helped make me feel at home, too. They welcomed me back with such open arms and were genuinely excited to see me and hear of my recent adventures.
Now I know this may sound strange, but I was honestly surprised that my friends were so happy to see me. I knew I was missed, but I don’t think I imagined the type of welcome home I’d receive. Good thing, too, because I was treated like royalty! Some friends paid for my drinks, bought me dinner and treats or carved out time specifically to spend time with me – I truly felt the love.
As I have reflected on the trip, I have realized that the people I’ve met in Richmond, many who I even consider family now, are a huge part of the reason the city feels so special to me.
After I visited Richmond one more time and attended my cousin’s wedding, I wasn’t sure if I would want to return to New Zealand. My heart was and is still so full from all the love I received while I was in Virginia. It was a little challenging and definitely sad leaving everyone and the place I call “home” behind once again.
I do know that I will be back in the States (and definitely Richmond) soon enough. But for now, I want to finish what I started. My journey might be near its end but it is not over as I still have a few more must do’s to check off of my travel bucket list.
So, I’ll see you in three to five months, Virginia.