Thursday, August 1: When I arrive in Richmond in the late hour of this afternoon, the city is sunny but heavy with typical Virginia humidity. I immediately love the brick row houses of The Fan, with their brightly painted doors and colorful facades, their tidy gardens, neatly potted herbs and flowers, and ebullient trees, and the streets of cracked pavement; I immediately notice the way it feels like a trip back to my past, laden with memories, because I used to live here some 25 years ago.
My 29 year-old-daughter, Sarah, and I share a bottle of Spanish wine; her roommate Daniel joins us, and we talk about the teaching world, to which Daniel and I both belong. Daniel and I get annoyed by Sarah’s tabby cat, Chicken Little, climbing all over the kitchen counter and table, and Daniel pulls out the handheld vacuum and scares her off in an attempt to train her to stay off eating spaces. I’m all for that!
Daniel takes a bunch of pictures of us in front of their apartment. Some of them are goofy, others I like quite a lot. I’m 5 inches taller than Sarah, but you can’t tell it in these pictures.
After a while, we take off for a new Richmond restaurant I haven’t tried, Heritage. As soon as we park, the sky opens with a downpour and we splash in through swiftly forming puddles and sharp stabs of rain. We settle at the bar, where we each have a beer and make a toast to my homecoming. The photos below were taken with my new iPhone. So far, I’m not overly impressed.
Sarah insists on ordering a small dish of pork “fries,” medium dishes of Bourbon Barrel Smoked Pork Belly with kimchi, bok choy, carrot, Virginia peanuts and ginger and Local Tomato Gazpacho with cucumber, avocado cream and herbs. I’m disgusted by the slabs of fat lining both sides of the pork belly and tell her I won’t partake. I order a large dish of Rockfish. I’m shocked by the prices in this place, but I have determined to treat us both, despite my disappointment with the menu. I know I’m being a grump, but I don’t like wasting money like this on food that I don’t even like.
A friend of Sarah’s comes over to chat with us, and Sarah tells him she just went to Italy and that I just came from living in Oman for two years and from a month-long holiday in Spain and Portugal. He tells us he spent a year living in India and we talk about India and all our travels a bit.
Sarah tells me of her trip to Italy with her dad, stepmother and two half-brothers and says it was fun but a bit cumbersome traveling with 5 people. She can see the appeal of traveling alone and stopping whenever she wants at sidewalk cafes. She tells me of the chaos of Rome, the poverty of Naples and the beauty of Tuscany. I tell her about crazy street performers in Spain and Portugal, about meeting some fellow bloggers, about the beautiful architecture in both countries.
After dinner, we return to her apartment, and she shows me pictures of her trip to Italy. I’m so happy she was able to go. She bought her own plane ticket, but her dad paid her expenses while there, a great deal for her.
We lie on her two couches to watch old episodes of Frasier; we both fall asleep on our respective couches. It’s so lovely to spend an evening hanging out with my daughter after a year away.
Friday, August 2: We get a late start. One of Sarah’s roommates just moved out yesterday and she has a new guy moving in this afternoon. In the meantime, she has no food (typical!), so we head to Ellwood’s for the hot breakfast bar. After breakfast, we go shopping for belated birthday presents for her; she wants to upgrade her iPhone and she wants to go to Urban Outfitters for a couple of new outfits. We go to Target and Barnes & Noble, then eat some lunch at Einstein’s Bagel, where I get a Chipotle Chicken Bagel.
At Urban Outfitters, another store I hate, Sarah buys a dress and two tops, and we head back to her apartment. I think I will take a nap before I drive an hour further south to visit my father in Yorktown, but when I remember rush hour, I decide to take off right away so I don’t have to sit through the horrible traffic that seems to be ubiquitous in Virginia. Even though Oman had crazy drivers, I at least rarely had to contend with traffic jams. Come to think of it, Virginia’s drivers are just as crazy as Oman’s. Funny how, when you’re living abroad, you forget these things. 🙂