Coming up on my year after graduating from Old Dominion University, I can’t help but reflect on the reasons I’m still in the town I grew up in.
I swore up and down I would find a hip and happening media job in a bigger city nearly immediately, and leave. Instead I’m in food industry and freelance writing from the homest of homes — my parent’s place.
Sometimes I still squirm, wanting to shake the dust of my hometown. Once I take a few deep inhales and think about it through, I remember again Norfolk is really a place millennials can make their own, and that’s a city I want to be a part of.
Along with my blog, which has given me the opportunity to chat with artists from all over, I freelance for the Virginian-Pilot, which gives me a chance to explore the great artists here. One I recently chatted with was producer Gabe Niles, who heavily aided in Grammy nominee D.R.A.M.’s success.
“The capabilities and the potential that we have,” Niles said. “It’s so easy to finesse and maneuver and do what you want…if you put that in your mind you can get away with a lot [in Hampton Roads].”
And don’t we all love getting away with a lot?
Here are some of the other reasons I chose to stay home, right here in Tidewater:
It’s a relatively cheap place that’s consistently getting easier to get around: Housing is almost 70% cheaper than New York City, and with improved bike lanes and fights for public transit, it’s starting to feel a little more like we have some of the benefits of urban life. Even without a car, eateries and bars are within walking distance of apartments in a number of neighborhoods, like Riverview, Ghent, Ocean View, and downtown.
It’s a small town with substance: The uncrowded Norfolk is large enough to feel big, but small enough to also be underwhelming simple, with plenty to do if you look hard enough.
Live music and dancing at small venues run usually under $10, and if you’re a musician or DJ yourself, getting to know bookers is pretty easy.
It’s a small town, but it’s also a big enough city in need of young creatives that are sure to stand out: Norfolk is one of the few semi-major metropolises that’s not only severely undersaturated with young creatives, but begging them to come here and invigorate the military-heavy city with artistic energy.
Any other city, it’s easy for one to get lost in a sea of success, or be found and blended into the bigger picture. Here, you can stand out, and really mold your greater community.
Along with a hunger for artistic energy is a thirst for small businesses: When I walk Granby Street, I envision gift shops, unique food spots, and record stores lining the block. There are so many opportunities to start small businesses.
If renting your own spot seems too much of a commitment, the new Selden Market is a great place for millennials to test their boutique ideas.
Maybe most important, there are so many friendly faces to aid in your endeavors: Norfolk is full enthusiastic people who are eager to jump into creative endeavor and give you the push you need to make it happen. Things I’ve talked about doing for years — starting my blog, Popscure, and my band, Crushing — would’ve never happened without the wonderful people helping me water the soil which the beautiful flower of an outlet bloomed.
Niles said LA friends are eager to visit, intrigued by Norfolk’s mystique.
“The whole area has a mystery to it because we have all these gamechangers out there,” he said, and he’s right. I was in a music video with D.R.A.M., and he sent my pal her first flirtatious Instagram DM. I’ve seen Missy Elliott’s house, and my best friend went on a blind date with Pharrell’s brother.
When I finally exhale, I remember just how cool Norfolk really is for someone my age. Since I was born here, I’ve had a tough time dealing with the feeling of being “stuck here.” When I really think about it, though, I’m not stuck — it’s more the ethos of Norfolk has stuck with me so much I can’t leave.
“It’s home, man,” Niles said.
About the Sponsor of this Post:
Rose & Womble Realty Co. was born and bred in Hampton Roads – our owners live and work here in the Seven Cities. We are a family-owned and operated business – with multiple generations working at all levels, from agents to managers.The leadership within the company is LOCAL – not out of state – but right here in Hampton Roads.