RVA · VCU Basketball

Road Trip

Hey, I’m dashing this post off, fresh and organic, straight from my brain to my blog. Highly uncharacteristic of me. Normally, I ruminate [thank you Terry Price for reminding me of this delightful word] for a good long little while before pressing the publish button. No such luxury today. First of all, it’s the last day of March, and I set a goal for myself to blog every week, at least once a week. If I don’t post today, I miss my goal. Secondly, (and I’m feeling extremely and increasingly nervous about exposing my raw, mistake-ridden command of grammar to the world by not allowing time to edit) Mom and I are leaving Richmond to drive to Houston in t-minus 59 minutes.


So, if you know me, you know that basketball season is a big season for us. Home games are date nights for my husband and me. Bubs and I share a bbq and split some MnMs and a blue gatorade – every game. That’s actually a winning combination. They have never lost a game where I ate a bbq and MnMs. Not once. We go to games with my mom and step-dad every week from November to March. Mom and I always take time off to attend the CAA tourney together, too.

If you know me, you know I’m a VCU alum. A proud VCU alum. Here’s the part where I tell you that VCU changed my world and my worldview. I think I’m a pretty smart person with a good work ethic, a creative work ethic. I had a less than mediocre academic record until I got to college. VCU accepted me provisionally. As a freshman, I could take only 9 credits my first semester and was required to take the 0 credit college math, just to get me up to speed. Not pretty, but true.

At VCU, I found out that I love cities. I love history. I love to write. At VCU, I sat next to little old ladies and strippers in my Russian classes and beautifully proud, out transgendered students, too. There we all were, reciting Russian poems together with Professora Dunn. Helping each other. At VCU, other students held me accountable for growing in academic pursuits and in life. VCU changed me and made me a better, deeper, more compassionate, more interesting and interested person. I’m lucky my state has such a school and, even when VCU rejected my application to study creative writing in the MFA program, the school helped me grow.

So. If you know me, you know I love Richmond, Virginia with everything I got. Like VCU, my city has treated me right. And if you know Richmond, you know we deserve to feel good about this city. You know that this Final Four is about more than basketball. To me, it’s about the thing that sports and music and art and literature can help do sometimes. Bring people together, create a common cultural experience, redefine how we think of ourselves, and how we treat each other.

We’ve been jonesin for change and goodness and a new day in Richmond for an awfully long time. Tasks forces and papers and speeches all designed to help us out of a 250 year funk do help. The Folk Festival helps. Center Stage helps. That squirrel who makes absolutely no sense in relation to baseball or the region really helps. Our river helps. And so do the 2010-11 VCU Rams.

I’m not saying basketball can make our problems go away. Basketball won’t change the fact that ours is a region of great economic disparity. A trip to the Final 4 will not solve our damn cooperation problems that have kept us behind other cities. Ok. I mean Charlotte, if you want to know the truth. Nope, not saying the VCU Rams can solve everything.

Going to those games every week though, does help me find a little more something to keep on trying and keep on smiling and keep on coming downtown. I sit beside my husband, whispering and giggling and singing along with the pep band and I relax. We watch pretty young things dance to PYT, and we smile and clap because even dance team members work hard at their craft and deserve praise. I work on manuscripts or read inspiring books by Stacy Adams during half-time. We ride home as a family through our beautiful city, all winter long, happy to have had a little bit of a break from the burdens we carry.

In a recent RTD column, beloved Richmond columnist, Michael Williams wrote about our Rams’ success in the tourney, “You cannot overstate the impact on our community psyche. We’re on a natural high. The region, if only for this bright shining moment, has shed defeatism and divisiveness. We see ourselves as winners.”

That’s it. Williams also challenged us – this means you and me – to keep this goodwill alive. Let this story serve as the spark, so we can finally, shine out.

Ok. I gotta finish packing. My boss let me off work. My mother-in-law, God bless her for real, gave me $100. My cousin who lives in Houston is letting us crash at her place. My cousin from Phoenix is meeting us there and we’re bringing him a Final 4 shirt, even though he was/is/whatever a Jayhawks fan. My friend Nylce gave me a pair of bird earrings to wear. Bubs and Judith are staying behind, while Mom and I take our road trip. We’ll be home Monday in time to watch the Championship game in Richmond, together.


6 thoughts on “Road Trip

  1. Pen, thanks! I hope you’re wearing your black and gold today. I heard The Dairy Bar is making some pretty fantastic Black and Gold shakes. Go Rams!


  2. Thanks, ME! We’re just getting through Charlotte, where we ran into a car load of VCU students getting gas, and a dude in the gas station who boasted that he used to play ball every day with Jamie Skeen at the Y. Go RAMS.


  3. Write unedited as often as you can, girl! What a wonderful piece. You and this team and the art students and the faculty are awesome representatives of what is so great about VCU and our city. Openness works. Togetherness creates so much good. Fostering creativity and achievement all over the map is what VCU does in so many ways. And now this excitement fosters a regional pride that is centered in the city–for a very good reason. Have a great road trip!


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