Indeed, Virginia has the perfect slogan for travelers, tourists, and a former resident like myself.
Although I now live in Henderson, North Carolina, I truly miss living in Virginia. I am so glad to return there for Labor Day weekend. I need another break from Henderson besides the one I have taken 4 months ago. I want to walk peacefully at a park or beach again. I want to eat good doughnuts and chili dogs again. I want to again be around people who ignore or do not give me uncomfortable stares.
To prove that I am a Virginian at heart, I give you (American or Westernized man) information about places I have gone, things I have done, etc. during my 3-day vacation:
At first, I am thinking that I am stuck in boring Henderson for Labor Day weekend. The reason is that my dad yesterday has called someone from a hotel and has told me that all the hotel rooms in Williamsburg (city in Virginia and somewhere I have lived for 13 years) would be booked. I am thus disappointed and angry that I cannot go. Fortunately, he calls my sister and tells her to say that I can travel there. I happily pack my bags, drive his truck, put enough gas in it, and head toward Virginia.
When I stop at a Wawa gas station store in Richmond (capital of Virginia), I am relieved. I have access to good sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, doughnuts, iced tea/juice drinks, and more. They are all fresh and delicious unlike the ones at Sheetz gas station store (which is close to where I live). I would rather drive a long distance and eat a tasty meal instead of driving to a nearby store and eating food that is so bad.
A hour or 2 later, I enter Williamsburg. It feels weird to be back here. But, at least I do not feel as lost here as I do in Henderson. I can look everywhere in Williamsburg and believe that I actually belong here again. After all, I have been her for over a decade.
I take a couple of photos at Go Karts Plus park, Thomas Nelson Community College (Williamsburg campus), and Williamsburg Pottery shopping center. I order a delicious grilled chicken sub and mediocre cheeseburger sub at New York Deli restaurant. I drive, shop, and walk around the outlet mall (my previous job) despite that it feels weird that I do not work there anymore. But, a familiar face really catches my full attention when I enter the food court. She has:
- short brown or black hair
- light skin complexion (because she is half-black and half-white)
- an average or curvy body shape
- a tattoo on the right side of her neck
I immediately recognize her as a former co-worker named Dionne. I am surprised to see that she still works at the janitorial job. I have thought that she has quit. The reason is that she has been absent for the last 2 weeks I have worked here. But, she obviously has returned after I have resigned. Now, almost 2 years later, she is in my presence again. I however do not approach and talk to her because she may not remember me at all. Just seeing her again and returning to this place is already awkward for me. A part of me wishes to turn back the clock to 2016 so that I can re-experience the job and reconnect with some former co-workers including her.
After leaving the outlet mall, I drive to the house I have lived for 13 years. It is dark and hard to see outside. I do not feel comfortable staying here overnight even though my dad and sister tell me that I can. I have some reasons for my negative feeling:
- no Internet connection
- possible mice and other nocturnal creatures running or hiding inside the house
- no furniture
- difficulty of sleeping well on the carpet floor
- next door neighbors
- I have never connected or liked them that much anyway.
- Their house is so close to the one I have lived.
My level of comfort increases when I stay at a somewhat expensive motel room at EconoLodge (which is adjacent to Sal’s pizza and subs restaurant, Budget Inn, and International Housing Village (where Busch Gardens Europe and Water Country USA employees from Europe and Asia temporarily stay). I can watch television while I lay on a bed and eat my sandwiches and other foods I have bought. I can use the Internet service as long as I type the passcode on the motel website on my laptop computer. I have a microwave to heat food and drinks plus a refrigerator to keep them cold and fresh. In addition, I can order and have food delivered to my room as well as taking a good shower and brushing my teeth.
Before I go asleep while watching a Lifetime movie, I exit the motel room and drive to a nearby Wawa gas station store. Of course, I buy 2 juice or iced tea beverages. I do not mind getting everything (e.g. food, drinks, and gasoline) because of its excellent quality (or qualities). Too bad I cannot do the same at Sheetz or another gas station store in Henderson.
I am happy to wake up and know that I am going to visit 3 other Virginian cities (Newport News, Hampton, and Yorktown) today. I know them as well as I do with Williamsburg. But, when I pick up a Bible from a drawer in my motel room, I learn the name ‘Gideons‘. I am surprised to find that they translate and distribute Bibles around the world. They are clever in drawing many people to the Lord Jesus Christ by placing Bibles in countless hotel and motel rooms. Like the ‘Gideons’, I also want to guide you and other readers to joy, peace, unity, etc. through this blog. There is so much misery, loneliness, and sin in this screwed up world.
While I await my 4th video chat with my possible Ukrainian girlfriend or wife Viktoria, I drive to a post office. I am glad to see a self-checkout machine again. Therefore, I buy 4 stamps for $2. As I leave, I become curious about the library. I drive around there despite that it is closed until 1:00 PM (same time I would communicate with her on Skype). Then, I head to a new grocery store (Earth Fare) that has replaced Big Lots. I buy a chicken salad sandwich, pretzel bun, broccoli, and other healthy items that I honestly am not going to find in a grocery store in Henderson. Also, I am not going to find a nature park like Veterans Park (formerly Mid-County Park) in Henderson as well. There is plenty of land, space to walk, and peace here at Veterans Park. That is why I always stay longer than I expect every time I come here. I feel like I am in paradise.
Around 12:15 PM, I leave and go to Dollar Tree store. I am surprised to see how much it has changed since the last time I have been here. But, seeing that Martin’s grocery store (which is a few blocks away) is forever gone and soon replaced with Publix is a big shock for me. I still imagine going to Martin’s and buying a slice of cheese, pepperoni, or breakfast pizza. Also, its carrot cake and pecan pie (I consider the best I have eaten since my existence) are worth buying, serving, and eating for snack. I hope that Publix has similar food items when I return to Williamsburg next year.
I make sure that I return to the motel room so that I can be ready for the Skype video chat. If you want to know the details of my communication with Viktoria and Elizabeth, please click and read the previous blog post. Hopefully, on my next chat with both Ukrainian women (on Sun. 10/7), I would have better Internet connection, be in a lighter room (so that they can see me clearly), and have a haircut.
In a bullet list, I like to tell you the places I have visited and created lasting memories:
- Newport News
- Newport News Park
- Despite that it is crowded, I love looking or walking at the bridge
- Patrick Henry Mall
- I am surprised to see an arcade store (that has replaced Old Navy).
- I have worked 2 jobs (Dairy Queen and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels which are both located in the food court) here 16 years ago.
- I have become interested in this new store because it is not that far from the James River Bridge (where I remember driving or riding a school bus to and fro the high school I have graduated).
- I buy an interesting shirt and a bag of 3 tasty lemon cookies.
- Newport News Park
- Sandy Bottom Nature Park
- Ever since I have initially come here with a teacher and other students from a college drawing class, I have fallen in love with the park.
- That is why I regularly walk, look at nature, and make time for myself (so that I can clear my head).
- When I need to escape from stress, worries, or difficult people, I can always go here, another nature park, or even a store parking lot (where I usually go in Henderson for my safety).
- Gus’s New York Pizza restaurant
- I crave for pizza that does not taste like one from Pizza Hut or a grocery store.
- Although the large supreme pizza costs me almost $20, it is delicious and worth the price.
- I am surprised to see that a Farm Fresh grocery store (next to the restaurant) no longer exists.
- I remember buying a salad or glazed doughnuts from there.
- Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC)
- Of course, I have to take photos of the buildings such as Templin Hall and Hastings Hall.
- I love the different views of the school.
- If time can go backward, I would still choose to go back there instead of another college or even university.
- Sandy Bottom Nature Park
- Yorktown Beach
- This is the #1 beach I like to visit.
- I have been to Huntington Beach in Newport News once.
- I have not gone back because I dislike it.
- I enjoy walking on the sand, looking at the bridge (from Yorktown to Gloucester), smelling food from a beach restaurant, and so on.
- Yorktown Beach