I’m going back to Charlottesville.

Well, I’m not going to live in Charlottesville proper until I 1) sell my mother’s house or 2) can get a place with at least central air in Charlottesville or urban ring Albemarle County for $1,100 or less. I’m a cheapskate when it comes to rent because of being able to rent an entire three-bedroom house in Hopewell for less than $800 a month. The current plan of action involves moving to my first home in a place not incorporated as a city. I kinda want to spend my entire life being the resident of a city, so if anyone knows of a house within Charlottesville city limits that is available after the Ides of March that accepts dogs, has central air and a fenced-in yard, we have ourselves a deal.

That’s right, I’m doing the Long Commute for the fourth time in my life. I hate the Long Commute. Only one of them has been my fault. Because we took out an 18-month lease to get a Great Deal here in Shockoe Bottom, we’ll have our third between Richmond and Charlottesville.

I plan on trading cars with my mom at least when it snows and when I move because she has an SUV. I haven’t told her yet because that was the point of calling her at 7 p.m. Friday. I blanked on why I called her because I was fixated on walking to get drunken noodle because I couldn’t be bothered to load the dishwasher and make dinner today.

Elliott, doesn’t your wife own an SUV?

Well, yes, but taking my mom’s car is a long, storied tradition. And my needing to get to work in inclement weather doesn’t trump her need to get to work in inclement weather. Anyway, my mom expressed reservations about owning an SUV when I went home last weekend. I’m anti-SUV, but I’ll gladly take one with literally 100,000 fewer miles and four fewer years than my car. It also has Bluetooth, which is great, because the aux jack in Nicole is broken, I’ve stopped burning CDs and I only buy physical CDs when the band means an awful lot to me, like The National or Blonde Redhead or The Mars Volta (when it was a band) or Death Cab for Cutie.* (I could throw in Jamiroquai, but I wanted Automation immediately, so I don’t have a physical copy and I regret it every time I want to hear We Can Do It and Nicole only plays music from one channel of the aux jack.)

If we do a permanent swap, I’d have a car essentially identical to my wife’s, though. Whatever. Our relationship began with nearly identical AIM away messages. (RIP, AOL Instant Messenger.)

This started off as a joke, but I’m totally going to try to swap vehicles. She never named her SUV. I’ll call him Scott.

But I digress.

I’m going back, to quote myself 12 hours ago, because I missed being closer to the action — the planning, working directly with reporters, being more involved in the online presence, really feeling a sense of accomplishment at the end of the night.

I went to Richmond because my wife was having trouble finding a job in her field in Charlottesville. I took the only open job in Richmond, being a reporter, because I figured having an editor who lived an hour away didn’t do Charlottesville any favors. As you know, I moved to the copy desk because, although I like writing, I’m not cut out for the daily grind anymore. And what I thought was the finest piece of writing I’ve done in my entire career didn’t get considered for a Virginia Press Association award. I mean, a post in this blog that I converted into a photo page won an award but I get nothing from the aftermath of a beleaguered town getting hit by a tornado? A convicted murderer was moved by my words and donated to the tornado relief fund from prison. FROM PRISON. I have my half-crazy dog because that storm wiped her home off the face of the earth, but some hokey column I wrote less than two years out of college placed?

But I’m over it.

Additionally, back in 2006, my dream was to become a copy editor there. Because I’m weird. My best explanation for leaving was that although I longed to be on that copy desk, I longed to be on that copy desk more than a decade ago. That means I expected to be doing something else by 2017. And after putting out a non-daily on a wing and a prayer for three years, hiring someone who has taken home awards because she covers the news better than me, having to deal twice with having to recommend firing someone and effectively being a consultant, the past year and some change has been … dull. Really dull.

I didn’t want to leave Charlottesville when I left. I know things have changed, but I have no desire to leave unless corporate wants me elsewhere. I’m excited about diving back in. (I’m more excited about living in the metro area in the spring because this will be my second-longest stretch of extreme commuting.)

Journalism is not dead. Good things can and will happen in Charlottesville, and I’m looking forward to being a part of it as long as I can.

Additionally, I feel that I need to be back there. The Charlottesville everyone saw on TV or on foot when they were in the streets in August is not my Charlottesville. My Charlottesville has amazing scenery, people who stop for people at crosswalks and people with friendly words for their neighbors as they live nestled between the Southwest and Blue Ridge mountains. Don’t let this summer turn you off from that beautiful city.


* I have a friend who introduces me as her “friend who loves Arcade Fire AND The Mars Volta.” After Everything Now, I don’t know if the former still is true.

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