Humans of Richmond

Humans of Richmond

Inspired by Humans of New York

As humans, we sometimes don’t take the time to get to know people. Yeah, we may know our best friend’s favorite color, our mother’s embarrassing high school story, or our little sister’s favorite tv show. But have you sat down and really paid attention to them? Sometimes, it seems that we are wired to be self-absorbed rather than thinking of others. Does this make us selfish? No, but it makes us miss out on opportunities to get to know each other. I went around Collegiate and Richmond, asking people if they would share their thoughts and experiences. These are the hands of the people who offered to talk about their lives.

I knew life would never be the same. I wanted to protect her and love her and give her the best life that I could for her. When we had our son, it was just different. There’s a difference when you have a boy and a girl. I thought with a boy we can take adventures together and have a relationship that was different from a daughter and father. It’s been a joy to have a daughter and a son and see how different they are. I look forward in being the best father I can be for them.”

“Every winter my parents cut wood.  A person came over and bought a load of wood. After he loaded his wood on the truck he gave me $125, so I decided to put it under a heavy object. Hours went by, and I told my dad that this guy came by to get load of wood. I said, “Dad, I got the money, but I forgot where I put the money.” I had my brothers, sisters and my parents looking for the money for two and a half hours. Until, I realized I put the money in my bra strap. I was about ten years old.”

 “I love to read.”

“We met in high school and dated through college at East Stroudsburg College. When I proposed to her, we were on vacation in the Bahamas. I felt excited and nervous. When we got back to to the hotel, the first thing my sister looked at was my knee, because she wanted to make sure that there was sand on my knee to see if I got down on my knee.”

“Well, I was diagnosed in eighth grade. I wasn’t really sure what it was or what it entailed, but it was very crippling at the time. I had a hard time functioning. I was very physically and mentally different than what I was before. I didn’t eat or sleep and I had threatened suicide. My parents took me to a therapist, and I was put on medication. I am better now, and I felt like I didn’t want go anywhere for a while. I felt like I was in this pit of nothingness. Then, I started to pay attention to everybody around me. My dad pointed out that people can’t help me unless you help yourself first. The medication and the therapy wasn’t [sic] going to improve me unless I work on myself too. Even though I am in a better spot where I was when I started high school. I sometimes go back to where I was. I think people should have more conversations. We as a community should talk about it.”

“Well, it’s hard and confusing. There’s multiple reasons why. My key reason is that I am not from the same socioeconomic status and I’m black. It automatically makes me feel like an outsider amongst my peers. People always want to talk about hip hop and shoes, but when it comes to talking about combating our issues that plague our communities, they try to minimize the problem. I used to find it hard to be myself, but as I got older I felt more comfortable. I feel like some people belittle me or underestimate my ability. I sometimes think it may be because of my race or who I am. Honestly, I am who I am. I am not less of a person than anyone else. I am not trying to make assumptions of anybody or saying they do it intentionally, but I feel like it happens.”

 

“I almost lost my finger in a table saw.”

 

“In sixth grade, I went to VGF with a boy. At the time, we really liked each other. We planned over google chat when we were going to meet up. Some friends and I went to the playground to meet up with his friends. They were egging me on. Then me and the boy went on a walk around the Lower School and saw my dad on the walk and we ran away. We walked back to the playground. We ran off again and kissed right in front of Nurse Hall’s office. I’m pretty sure both of our eyes were open.”

“When I feel sad, I sing to myself in a corner or just in a hallway. I mostly sing showtune music because they express emotions better. My favorite song is ‘Pretty Funny.’ It makes me feel like someone understands me, especially when I don’t particularly feel pretty or feel like nobody likes me.”

 

“Well, one of things I love to do for myself is on the weekend find a class to take: class I know a nothing about. It’s almost always a creative class. This weekend I took a pop up card class. Part of what I love about the class was that  it was so beautiful, simply cutting it in different ways, gluing in different ways, just playing and cutting. No worries, not about politics, just about sitting there thinking about Valentines or cutting out crazy shapes. So much of our lives are planned. It’s liberating to do something that requires you not to make big life decision. It was so great, the greatest afternoon, I felt so much better.”

 

“I’m from West Virginia, that’s my roots. Where I’m from there’s a lot of rednecks, and I lived on my grandma’s ranch. She obtained that ranch because she had dated the governor. We were really close with the governor before he got impeached. On our ranch we had a beautiful cow. We had three beautiful horses named Celestial, Roadbuck, and Pidgey. We had to wake up every morning at six o’clock to do chores. I cleaned out the horse stall and fed the pigs. I miss the ranch, and I want to move back to the ranch. I didn’t want to move to Richmond in the first place, but I’m starting to like it here.“

 

“I like to design things. Anything building, like roller coasters. I don’t know, just anything. I just think it’s fun. I want to be an architect. I really don’t have an inspiration. My friends, I guess, we like the same stuff. They’re fun to hang out with, we got the same interests.”

 

“So, I have a birth defect that was caused by my mother’s umbilical cord being wrapped around my hand. It lead to my hand not developing correctly. I don’t have any fingers, just kind of a nub. I didn’t notice it much when I was younger. I was never treated differently from my parents. Sometimes some of the kids in my apartment complex would stare at me. It didn’t bother me until I was in preteens and I really started feeling different, in a bad way. I was really in a bad place in my life. I was really insecure. I didn’t have a great body image, and everywhere I went I thought people noticed, but they really didn’t. I remember this one time I was in Macy’s with my dad. We were trying on dresses for Cotillion. A couple of kids were also trying on dresses, and they began to point and laugh at me. I knew they were talking about me. My dad saw it too, but we didn’t really know what to do, so we went to a different section. I ended up getting the dress because I looked good in it. Now, I am a lot better about my body imagine. I feel better about myself. I do a lot of sports and they make feel good. I feel good.”

 

“I was born in Burbank, California. When I was two, we moved to Australia to be closer to my dad’s family. We stayed there for a while, that was where my sister was born. We ended up moving back to California. After that we moved to Connecticut. We then moved to Virginia, and I’m stuck here in this terrible place.”

 

I am proud of what I have become today. I know I have grown and developed in ways I never could’ve fathomed as a Middle Schooler. Middle School was tough for me. As an Asian-American living in a predominantly white private school, I immediately stood out. I was not born in Mooreland Farms, I did not play lacrosse since I was out of the womb, and I was not white. I tried extraordinarily hard to try and fit in. I bought countless outfits, shoes, necklaces, and preppy paraphernalia to try and blend in. I tried playing the same sports, listening to the same music, and acting the same way they did, but it was tiring and miserable. Eventually, through time, experience and understanding I was able to move past that phase and learn to love myself for who I was. I don’t regret at all my attempts to fit the Collegiate mold because that is what led to me realize it was all superficial garbage. I will never be a three-season varsity athlete, I will never live in Mooreland Farms, nor want to, and I will never be exactly the same as anyone else. I am my own person: independent, strong, passionate and quirky and most importantly, proud to be in my own skin.”

 

“The happiest day of my life was when I was in fourth grade. On August 31, my mom had her breast cancer removed and no longer was in stage III. At a young age, I didn’t realize the importance of what was going on in my mom’s body, and how I could have lost her. Without her, a lot of things would not be accomplished today. She is my number one supporter, even though sometimes she is tough on me. As I got older I realized what was going on with my mom and the importance to cherish every moment you get with your parents. Also, now that I’m older I realize that cancer is a disease affecting more people each day. The surgery was supposed to last eight hours but it ended up being 13 hours. Its is a blessing that she still alive and still supporting me.”

 

“So, when I first wanted to be a pro wrestler I was secretive. I don’t know why, but I was. When I first started to tell people what I wanted to do they were concerned for my mental health and well being. It hurt man, it sucks. Then, the more I started to win, the more I didn’t care. Now I’m on the way to being the biggest pro wrestler.”

 

“When I was in Kindergarten, there were terrorist threats. There wasn’t enough police for every school. My kindergarten ended up being defended by volunteer parents. Every Israeli goes to the army, so they were all trained. There were two at the door and two walking around the fence with guns to protect us.”

“There is nothing like being a grandmother. Spending quality time with my ‘pumpkin pooh,’ and watching her grow up is a blessing. When she calls me ‘Gigi,’ it just melt in my heart and touches my soul. It’s an indescribable joy.”

All photos by Gabrielle Spurlock.

About the author

Collegiate School