Great! I’m so glad you asked. It started on Thursday when we filled a huge truck full of our belongings (actually a bunch of college kids did the actual filling, I just ran around like an idiot, packing and preparing).
And then I took Friday off to rest my back, do valiant battle with chapter 9 of my manuscript, and consume a remarkable birthday dinner full of oysters, seasonal vegetables, pork, and bourbon with Spouse and Old Friends (not as old as me, but whatever).
Saturday consisted of a long drive to a pretty place and the emptying of the truck into a storage shed. After a sweaty few hours, I reemerge to find that everyone now knows the name of my hometown and are standing in solidarity with it. What?
Cue some very complicated reactions. I have a love/hate relationship with my hometown, as do many people with their places of origin. But in my heart of hearts (whatever that means) I love Charlottesville. (I know this breaks down my pretense of anonymity, but I can’t not write about it. Also rest assured the copyeditor in me is entirely outraged at the way people have misspelled it.)
In the nineteenth century a ten-year-old black girl was beaten to death by a white UVa student for being “insolent.” Likely this meant that she didn’t step out of the way fast enough or didn’t acknowledge him the way he expected. Or maybe she had a bratty ten-year-old moment, as all of us have had.
The beating happened at what is now the busiest cross-walk in town, a popular location for pedestrians to get from the university to the yummy yummy bagels and other delights and horrors along the commercial district neighboring the university. (You Cvillians know where I mean.)
Thousands of students, professors, staff, tourists, and townspeople walk over that spot daily. Yet the history is not acknowledged in any way. It is too common, maybe. Or maybe people don’t want to talk about it.
Charlottesville is a town rich with history and an accompanying white nostalgia. It is a very segregated town. The university’s professors are often more liberal than their students. It has an incredibly high number of bookstores per capita, and you can almost always see the mountains.
I hope the horror of this weekend will be a wake-up call for white Americans to do the right thing and actively oppose hate and bigotry in all its forms. I don’t know how to end this post because I’m either going to write a couple thousand more words or descend into cliches. There are no easy answers. So do what you need to do to take care of yourself and to make the world a better place.