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Suddenly, you realize Richmond is a little more into you than you're into him.

Let's Be Friends

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hicago, he ain't. Chicago, who grabs you by your windswept hair and tongue-kisses you like a GI just back from war. That is a city who is easy to love.

Now, New York — exciting, brash, loud and a little bit dangerous — is the kind of city you can commit to for a lifetime despite all his faults. D.C. seduced you with his power, L.A. with his movie-star good looks and almost endearing shallowness. (Remember that fling with L.A.'s friend, the one with the open shirt and gold chains? Yep, one too many tequila shots and you wake up with Vegas in your bed.) Whether they were true love, torrid affairs or just mad infatuations, your relationships with these cities were ignited with a single effortless spark.

Not so with Richmond.

You meet Richmond at a friend's wedding. It turns out he's a history buff and very conservative (he's wearing a bow tie and he's not even in a tux!), but after hours of conversation and a few dates you still can't uncover his passion. Sports? Not really. He doesn't even have a home team to root for. Music? Nah, he hasn't seen a major act in years.

Though he is pleasant and friendly and says all the right things, you can't help but feel that on some level he continues to shut you out. He has a very tight group of his oldest friends who are also pleasant to you but leave you with the feeling that you aren't truly welcome. You sense that unless you've known him all your life, he will always consider you an outsider.

Still, you continue to date Richmond because you're on the rebound after a bad breakup from, say, Miami. (You don't dare tell him you dated Charlotte for a while. He'll freak out.)

Seeing him becomes comfortable, and you have fun doing things with him you didn't even know cities really did. Suddenly you are attending festivals celebrating things like Brunswick stew and pork, for heaven's sake. You're grooving in gardens and parading on Easter. So what if his downtown is small? Does size really matter?

Little by little, he starts getting to you. You think you could spend some significant time with Richmond, if not commit yourself forever. He offers you the moon, the stars, cheap downtown parking. The consummate gentleman, he even takes your groceries to your car and refuses a tip. He can get you a nice house for under 200 grand, and he'll never make a spectacle of himself in public with riots and looting, though about once a year he'll get really drunk and torch a mural on the floodwall or something.

You realize you care enormously for Richmond, but deep down you know he's a little more into you than you are into him. You may very well leave him someday for San Francisco or Paris, the George Clooney of cities (hey, a girl can dream), but you'll always stay friends with Richmond. (Unless, of course, you leave him for Charlotte.)

And when you think about Richmond you'll remember that indeed it was easy to be with him — to get from one end of him to the other in 20 minutes, to walk into a restaurant and be seated in less than 15, to stroll his streets and be greeted with warm smiles and hellos from total strangers. (Your ex, Philadelphia, thinks you're making all this up just to "bust his chops.")

So maybe that slogan isn't too far off after all, you think. Maybe it just needs a little tweaking. You propose "Historic Richmond Region: Easy to Like, But Just as a Friend."

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