Ode to Charlottesville

At long last, this is my “Ode to Charlottesville” – and to career plans, too, if I’m being perfectly honest. Yet we know that plans change. We’ve all learned that by now. (Or not – if you haven’t, consider yourself lucky. Maybe your life will keep chugging along at the speed you’ve planned, and you’ll pass through all your stops at their scheduled times. Your tracks will lead you down scenic ways and you’ll only blow off steam for the good times. Friend, if this is you, enjoy your ride.)

Regardless, I know that plans change. Life isn’t perfect. Things don’t stay the same. Curve balls present tough challenges; still, they can be hit nonetheless.

In all the plan-changey-ness that is my life, I just try to roll with it. Well, as much as possible. I have a bit of a Type-A personality, mind you, so I lack nearly all spontaneity – but I do try. Now that I’ve been planning not to plan, saving myself both stress and potential disappointment, it’s occurring to me that I kind of need to start planning again – a little, at least. However, since I don’t know what I really want anymore or how to prepare for a future that could change and lead to something else, it’s a bit tough to plan these days.

For example, I’m a Communication major. With all the transferring schools that I’ve done, I’m quite behind the ball, rather than ahead of it like I used to be. I lack experience. I don’t know what I’m doing. This isn’t me, and this definitely wasn’t my plan!

Now I’m a decisive person and pretty confident, too. (And thanks to Dr. Hussain and thousands spent on braces, my smile may help me a tad bit in an interview. Just a tad. Maybe. Actually, does that really help? Probably not, come to think of it.) Regardless, my resumè leaves me feeling sub-par, and I’m having second thoughts on actually going into Public Relations as I had previously planned. (Again – plans change. Plans fail. Plans let you down.)

Which is where my sister comes in. Oh, and Charlottesville, if you were wondering how that whole “ode” thing played into things.

Apparently, my true calling may not be in PR; Amy seems to believe that I am much better suited to pursue event planning. That’s right – my own flesh and blood is rallying for me to become a wedding planner.

Now this is the stuff that dreams are made of. Whole television shows are dedicated to nuptial preparations, and most of us girls love a good wedding-centered chick flick. Of course, with 27 Dresses and Bride Wars, it’s clear that we all have love-hate relationships with our love-hate for weddings, too. For most of us, though, as over-the-top as the wedding world has become for some individuals, we still can’t help but dream a little.  Just a little. Engaged, dating, or single, we have a few plans. A few ideas. Maybe a vision, a location, or a few best friends picked out for the bridal party. Maybe it seems a little frivolous, especially when the matter at hand should be the marriage itself. Maybe wedding planners are over-rated. But for now, I don’t think I care. I think I may want to be one. Maybe. And for now, as one of my potential plans, I have my sights set on Charlottesville, Virginia.

Why Charlottesville?, you ask. Why not?, I answer. Charlottesville is beautiful. Charlottesville is cool. I have likely been brainwashed by my sister, but Charlottesville is perfect. Don’t get me wrong – I know every city has its issues, and Charlottesville, with its steep homeless rates, is no exemption. But I can still love it. I can still want to move there. I can still hope it all works out.

You see, Charlottesville is a Mecca of sorts for wedding and event planning. I’ve done my research, and if they’ll have me, I want to learn from the best! Now, you ask, But you know that plans change – what if these new ones fall through, too? To that, I answer, I still love Charlottesville.

I know by now you either
A. Don’t get why I love Charlottesville OR
B. Thought you were going to be reading about Charlottesville and really wish I would get to the point already

To which I respond,
A. Let me tell you why
B. I am finally getting to the point

The city of Charlottesville is lovely. Centered around the esteemed University of Virginia, the city is anchored in history. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, after his Presidency, the architecture and design of the school is something in and of itself. As much as possible, the buildings have been preserved, the Rotunda is still the University’s focal point, and living in one of the Lawn rooms is considered a fairly prestigious affair. In fact, though his time at UVa was brief, Edgar Allan Poe’s room can be viewed by the public. The University’s Honor Committee influences other schools nation-wide, and secret societies (including the Z’s, IMPs, and Sevens) abound.

As uniform as the red bricks and white columns spotted throughout campus are, one building in particular stands out, and, I imagine, could even be considered the University’s sore thumb to some. However, whenever I walk the grounds, I pay special attention to Brooks Hall. Of course it’s a controversial subject, but to me, this building is most definitely an example of changed plans. The brick is different, the design is different, and the carved stone animals embedded in the edifice are definitely different – this building does not belong!

But it fits. It works. It’s been there for decades, and it will remain there for countless more. Maybe it belonged on Cornell’s campus, or at Harvard, Princeton or Yale. Maybe someone found themselves in some heat over the mix-up. But I love it still. Besides being incongruous with the rest of the University, it is a bit bizarre, too. It’s built in a Victorian Gothic style and actually incorporates a type of gargoyle known as “chimera.” In fact, they remind me of the unfortunate animals in Wicked somehow, except that these animals are almost frightening, especially with names like “Huxley” appearing atop them. Above all else, though, it’s interesting. It really is. It catches you off guard. It surprises you. It is a changed plan – and it worked.

Aside from my intrigue over Brooks Hall, I have come to truly love Charlottesville this summer. There’s the Corner, Bodo’s, the Downtown Mall, Fridays After Five, and the Vinegar Hill Theater. There’s a slew of restaurants and countless coffee shops that may finally break my Starbucks addiction. There’s friends and good times and even family.

There’s potential. There’s beauty. And if I were to call Charlottesville my home for even just a year, I’d have to go on a bit of faith, too. And in the end, that’s what your plans come down to. Whether you make it where you were headed or not, you can’t get there without some faith.



Links to Love:

The City of Charlottesville
The University of Virginia
Easton Events


One Response to “Ode to Charlottesville”
  1. Ray Sikes says:

    Janie, I love the way you write. I’m open to your changes in plans, too, even if I’m not at all into the big wedding thing. Just walk in faith, and that’s all I ask.


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