When I first got my license at 16 and was able to drive on my own, I took my 1998 purple Toyota Avalon and, with my friends, started exploring new parts of the city I had grown up in my whole life. The first time I drove in the city, I was that person that went down the wrong way on a one way street...happens to the best of us.
During the time I spent there, I was opened up to many more aspects of where I lived. I got to see the culture, creativity, diversity, and beauty that a city can hold.
The restaurants, shops, streets, and sidewalks held creativity on every inch of where they are. There are different details erupting from every corner and a story behind every face in these places. The different places and people that make up Richmond are the aspects that give life to the city that I had just started getting to know.
Through experiencing the details, uniqueness, and story behind each place I went, I was opened to the individual stories, details, joys, and sorrows that make up the lives of the people who truly give life to the city.
It was through going to new places every time I went into the city that gave me a pull towards adventure and exploring, not only Richmond, but different places everywhere. And in each place, looking at the details of the space and the people that encompass the space.
Growing up in the suburbs of Richmond, I learned about what I do not want moving forward and through venturing into the city any chance I got, I learned about what I do want.
Richmond has done a great deal in shaping my overall world view and has given me the push I needed to move into and go after the life I want. Living here has also given me the strength to say no to the aspects of life that I do not want.
Living in Richmond has taught me how to not let my upbringing dictate the course of the rest of my life, like I had let it done for many years. I have seen the patterns of how children around me grow up to live the same life they grew up in and how the pattern continues for generations. But Richmond has shown me that is not how it has to be.
I have gotten to see the resilience, vulnerability, strength, and love of humans through the people that make up Richmond.
I have recognized and learned about my privilege as a middle class, white, Christian and how I have a choice to use my privilege to stay in ignorance or to open my eyes and listen to others around me who do not have the same privilege.
Richmond has shown me how upholding history is not as important as the lives, feelings, and well-being of others. And as someone of privilege it is my job to speak out against the injustice of the oppressed. It is my job to listen to those who have been marginalized and stand with them in the fight for justice.
There are aspects of Richmond that I will hold onto for the rest of my life and there are aspects that I will let go of as I am moving forward in my own journey. We have the choice of what we want to keep and let go of from the places we come from. I can see the imprint Richmond has had on me and how living here has shaped who I am today. Moving forward, I will continually grow from what I have learned growing up here and will always be thankful for what Richmond has shown me.