A circle is completed as August comes to a close, and I mark ten full years in Charlottesville. I'm beginning a second decade here.
What a long, strange trip it has been. There have been moments of joy, moments of sadness and at least one moment where a gun was pointed at me. I've met many people, have had many chapters, and in general I feel blessed to be here in this community.
"You're going to make a ton of friends here," said my first wife when we moved here. We'd been in Roanoke ever since we moved back from Calgary. I liked the Star City, and was somewhat hesitant to leave because she was in the process of establishing her career there. And, I liked being a public radio journalist working for WVTF.
But, I needed a job, and it was here. And so we moved here, even though she spent the first four months commuting back and forth.
Our first house was up in Albemarle County on the land where the North Pointe community will one day be built. We lived in a house on Pritchett Lane that was actually owned by the Great Eastern Management Company. It was in the middle of nowhere. Moving into Charlottesville wasn't much of an option, we thought, because this was 2002 when the housing bubble was inflating rapidly.
In Roanoke, we paid $600 to live on the top floor of an awesome house with a balcony. We grew plants in the two summers we lived there. This was the house where we both watched the twin towers fall. This was the house we lived in when we got married.
We wanted a nice place to live. And it was hard to find in town. We looked at places that were more expensive and not nearly as nice. Our trip here to scout for places to work was stressful.
The house on Pritchett Lane was remote, but we could see the planes landing at the airport every night. There was nothing to walk to, but there were plenty of places to ramble. Where North Pointe will one day be, there are still trees and unused pastures and pathways that often reminded me of faraway lands.
So, our arrival in Charlottesville was fairly solitary. The downtown mall seemed so exotic and faraway. Going out for beverages was not really much of an option, except on special occasions. So, I spent a lot of time after work completely by myself, as Pippa was in Roanoke at our old house.
I read C-Ville and the Hook a lot. Roanoke did not have a weekly, let alone two. It was an amazing novelty to learn about my new community through the articles I read. At the time, the community was in the midst of an awful drought. Those of us who were here still talk about how restaurants started using paper plates and plastic cutlery because using water to wash dishes was wasteful and depleted resources.
Reading the weeklies, I had this sense that I was in a very interesting place, but I was so far away from the center of the action. My job was interesting, but it was not downtown. I worked by the Boar's Head Inn. I didn't really feel connected to anything. I didn't have much of an opportunity to make those friends that Pippa said I would.
Flash forward to now. Dan Deacon's new album is playing. I'm wearing swim trunks. I was going to swim 1,500 yards but the University of Virginia's men's polo team had taken over the pool, so I didn't take the plunge.
I just had a talk with my housemate about an issue very important to me. He used the word "manipulateable" and I took delight that I have friends all around me.
I was about to meet a woman for a date the other night and Tom McCrystal was walking towards me and told me he's seen me smiling a lot more since I left Court Square Tavern.
We went to the Local, and I watched a lot of my friends play music during singer-songwriter night, and it's inspired me to get serious again about learning how to play the guitar. I played for half an hour tonight trying to learn a bluegrass progression. I didn't nail it, but I learned a new way to phrase the G chord.
I took the day off today to take care of some paperwork. I finished a book by Paul Auster which I had checked out of the library because I wanted to reconnect to novels. That's because my dear friend Beth Tayloe gave me a book for my birthday called "Writers Talking to Writers" and Auster was one of the first interviewed. I've not read a book by his in a very long time, but now I want to get to know him better. "Oracle Night" is in a lot of ways about writing and about creating reality, and as a writer I could identify with the multiple levels of reality going on in the narrative. I'm hoping I can write a review of it at some point.
I still experience the planes landing near my former house, but only as they pass over me as the pilots come to the end of their flight path.
Tomorrow I'm hoping to crank out two stories about this community we live in. The community I live in. The community I'm fairly certain I'm going to be in when it comes time to post an entry called "A third decade in Charlottesville."