The Blog Squad

Friday, October 07, 2005

The pariah speaks!

Suddenly, I am a pariah.

For those of you who don't regularly read my column in Richmond Magazine, a little background. About a year ago, after a decade living in the heart of the Fan, my husband and kids and I moved out to the burbs. A real cliche, I know. When we first moved, I wrote a melancholy sort of farewell in the magazine while ribbing my new subdivision for its homogeneity. Well, in the August issue of the magazine I wrote about a year in Midlothian with lots of jokes about lawn care and stuff. But I managed to royally tick off half of the Fan (and at least one School Board member) in the process. First there was the nonsensical letter to the editor that ran in the September issue saying: "People should be able to live anywhere they want [AGREED!], but why do they feel it is necessary to down one neighborhood to live in another[?]"

Where the writer got this goofy notion that I was putting down the Fan baffled me, but I moved on. Then I hear from a friend that I'm getting some flak in the Fan about it. OK. Yesterday, I hear from my editor at the magazine that some unsuspecting Richmond Magazine employee went over to Fox Elementary and was accosted by some folks over my column. What is going on here?

Not that I expect that all of Richmond has an encyclopedic memory of my writing, but since my days writing for Style and through to Richmond Magazine I have written essay after essay about my love affair with the Fan -- of lingering hours spent at Sobel's during a snowstorm, of roaming the streets after my dog died and finding solace and comfort from dog owners, and even a glowing tribute to the gnarled, broken sidewalks, for crying out loud!

I suspect what rankled people most was my statement that diversity in the Fan means white doctors and white lawyers and white accountants. ... I went on to say that I'd seen more diversity in my new neighborhood than I ever saw in the Fan.

Sorry, if that bothers anyone but I think I have a little credibility here. Ten years living and six years working in the neighborhood, hanging out at parks, walking up and down its streets, eating in its restaurants -- I think I know what I'm talking about. I am no more willing to perpetuate the myth of the Fan as multicultural village than I am to forward the notion that the suburbs are filled with people who look, act and think in an identical fashion. (OK, so we live in identical houses ...)

If any of you reading this are Fan residents, I'd love to hear from you. I'd love to get a real discussion started here because I'd like us to understand each other. Besides, I was hoping we'd move back to the Fan when the kids go to college. Knowing Richmond, it might take that many years before this blows over...


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