Southern Comfort

One of the many awesome songs played on the indie station here in Southern Virginia

I grew up in what used to be a small-ish suburb1 called Newport News, tucked between Williamsburg and Norfolk, Virginia. I worked summers at Busch Gardens, exchanged mix tapes with friends, drove to Buckroe Beach, or Croatan, or down to Kill Devil Hills and Hatteras to watch the cute surfers, and led a life I judged completely boring. I left for college and never lived in Newport News again. I needed edge! I needed clubs and concerts and art and a city vibe! I needed black clothes and bad attitudes! So I eventually made my way to the New York City metro area.

One thing leads to another and here I am several2 years later back in Newport News for a week-long holiday with my daughter. As we are approaching Newport News I’m flipping around the radio stations for something to listen to, and to my utter shock I hear Atlas Genius coming out of the speakers. The next song was something equally indie3 – Battleflag by Lo-Fidelity Allstars. And so was the next. Way to go, 96X! How unbelievably cool to have an indie station here, when there isn’t an indie station anywhere near NYC, a town where you can barely get tickets to shows before they sell out.

I had told my Mom I wanted to catch a yoga class while I was in town, and her yoga instructor arranged for me to have a week-long free pass at her studio. So I rolled into town in time for the 5:00 class and was able to work out the kinks created by the 9-hour drive here. Isn’t that a pleasant way to start a vacation? And isn’t that incredibly nice of the yoga instructor?

The next morning I had a massage to further relax my tight shoulders and back4 and it was one of the best massages I’ve ever had. No joke. And I’m a really horrible massage snob. Isn’t that wonderful and pretty impressive?

By the time I’d finished the massage, listened to more great radio on my way home, and polished off the first of several trips to Chick-Fil-A, I had a soul-shaking realization: I like it here. A lot. People are nice. They chat you up in line to buy groceries just to pass the time. The call you Ma’am and hold the door open for you. There’s decent yoga studios, better radio than in NYC, and close proximity to several beautiful beaches. There’s no edge. It’s all soft and Southern. No, you won’t stumble across Tilda Swinton sleeping in a box, but you can let your guard down and relax. For the first time in my life I’m starting to see why people live here. Maybe it’s just the yoga-massage-Chick-Fil-A-good-radio quadruple whammie talking, but this place is all right.

Namaste, y’all.

1 I used to describe it as a suburb without the ‘urb’

2 As in many, as in more than 20, maybe even close to 30, though I’d never admit it.

3 It is a little heavy on the Muse and Tool, which gives it more of a “Bro-Indie” focus than I’d ultimately prefer, but hey, it’s better than anything else I’ve heard in NYC since our one indie station went sports radio.

4 My body does NOT like that drive

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