What does it mean when you never feel like you fit in where you live? Is everyone supposed to be able to fit in to every place or situation? Is it because the place is lacking or the person? Does there really need to be blame? I find myself asking these questions a lot this last week in Virginia. I’ve lived in VA for about 12 years now and have never felt completely at ease, but I’m not sure whether that is just a part of me or partially locational.
And even if it is all self created, perhaps it will be easier to escape this feeling within myself as I move around this coming year. Different situations and scenes will probably help me learn more about myself and develop new coping strategies.
This is my last week here and still I find myself avoiding large social situations. I have a hard time being at loud, mingling events, and this is going to be a problem that I can’t move away from. While not diagnosed with any specific condition, I know I have difficulty sorting through sounds coming at me. Very quickly it all begins to mush together into one roar, and I am essentially alone in a very crowded room, unable to understand or respond to others polite attempts at conversation with me.
Norfolk is not a bad place. As I walk around Ghent lately I find myself realizing that if I was just a visitor I’d find it very charming. Specifically during Spring.
Wisteria and fast growing passion flower vines crawl up fences and hang over walkways. The air smells of dirt from freshly planted gardens and dinner being cooked in kitchens with windows wide open to let in temperate air. The Hague hasn’t started stinking from cooking in the summer heat yet…it will eventually, but right now it’s lovely.
And the pets! While I may have a hard time getting to know people here, I sure do know the names of all the dogs in my neighborhood. It feels good to live somewhere that openly loves their fur friends. It tickles me to see the restaurants up and down Colley Avev offer bowls of water to dogs or allowing patrons to enjoy their dinner while their dog rests at their feet.
Another thing I’ve realized I have taken for granted is that Norfolk has good food! This may sound small, but it’s so important. On road trips I find myself seeking local restaurants, not chains, to eat at in an effort to support small businesses and get a more authentic experience of a place, and I’m usually disappointed by freezer burned fries and some typical form of hotted up chicken. And then I wish I could walk down the street and eat at Luna Maya, Ten Top, Pasha or any of the other excellent restaurants Ghent can boast. Even getting a good cup of coffee can be an ordeal elsewhere. If only I could put a mini Fair Grounds barista in my pocket while traveling.
While Ghent and downtown Norfolk are very walkable, I still find myself wishing I could take the city and rearrange it as if playing The Sims. There are a lot of interesting shops, restaurants, lovely houses and views. Sometimes I feel like they are all hiding from each other. Shops and galleries that would pull in lots of foot traffic if clustered together are tucked here and there out of each others, and customers, sight.
With Lavender and Lace was a last minute discovery and there I was able to turn some of my vintage clothing into road trip cash. And I’m sure everyone can agree that Kitsch is a welcome addition to Ghent’s main strip(and you can buy ginger ale scented perfume there).
I’m rambling and vacillating between being relieved to leave and regretful. Oh Norfolk, I’m confused by you, but that is very likely my fault.
I’ve met and become friends with many wonderful people here. There is a lot of creativity and ambition around Norfolk, and I’m proud to know many of the best people in this town, but still, I find myself unable to interact with the people here as a group/town/culture. I keep them all in individual friendship slots.
I’ll end this wobbly post by quoting Tolkien’s Bilbo Baggins –
I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
– Bilbo Baggins