So this week I’m making the move to the midwest. St. Louis, Missouri. Home to the best sports fans in the country, the arch, Anheuser-Busch, countless casinos, and about 65 of my relatives. I’ll be living downtown in my very own artist loft. Yes, the place where people potentially throw paint up on the walls, drink a bunch of wine and talk about how fascinating and expressive it is. And I say ‘potentially’ not because that… doesn’t really happen… I say it because I’m not quite sure about the rules and limitations of the apartment complex yet :)

Regardless, I am nothing less than ecstatic to soon be living in a new city, and can’t wait for all the exciting adventures ahead.

But with that said, it is also kind of bittersweet to be leaving Virginia, where I have spent the last 17 years of my life. I’ll be leaving the city that is home to many of my nearest and dearest friends…. aka all those childhood friends and parents who stood by me through ALL the awkward hair styles and through all of my ridiculous fashion decisions (a 1st grader in tims and a huge Tigger sweatshirt, seriously guys?).

Richmond is where I learned all of the important stuff. Like, that turkey sandwiches taste way better with Doritos in-between the bread. Or that getting dropped off by your mom in HS was wayyyyy cooler than having to ride that dreadful yellow bus (But if you did have to take the bus for some reason, that you made sure to stand, not sit, in the back of the bus). Richmond is where I learned how to play kick the can, manhunt, and Last Chance. Richmond is where I co-founded a club called the Kreative Kids Klub and put on magic shows, circus routines, and guinea pig races for the neighborhood kids. And Richmond is where I preceded to co-adopt a manatee with all the money we raised at such fairs. For the short time I could actually touch my toes, I decided to take on karate, where I experienced my first regret: quitting a belt before black (*SMH). Virginia is where I was dubbed the name Shay, Shay Shay, Shanaynay, Shaydiz, Shanny, and everyone’s favorite… ‘Jeff’s little sister.’ Richmond is where I often passed the time by playing pool in our bonus room while blasting a mix CD of the Backstreet Boys, 98 degrees, Nsync, and Hanson. It was here that I also learned, much later, that such an activity was not a cool thing to do.

I had my fair share of themed bday parties, art projects, and collectibles (beanie babies, poggs, and the Lemony Snicket’s ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ series to name a few). I participated in about every after school activity, sport, community service project, and spirit competition growing up to bore a stranger for about a week. I learned how it felt to lose at an early age thanks to the hundreds of ping pong matches, basketball one-on-one’s, and.. let’s face it.. ANY sort of game I played against my brother. (Thanks Jeff!). And most recently, I learned how… entertaining it is to have your parents for roommates :)

Richmond will always be home to me because of all of the above, and much more. Most of my immediate family is here, and most of my childhood is here. No matter what St. Louis brings me, or whichever city after that, I will always remember all that Richmond has given and taught me over the years. Because after all, it’s here in Richmond that I gained one of the most important assets of all: the courage and confidence to move away and know I can make it on my own.

*shaking my head

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