I still have so much to learn

Knowing my propensity to get lost in Virginia, where the neighborhoods are not laid out in anything resembling perfect grids, I was very hesitant to delve into this assignment. I also do not have a car, so I would be relying on my legs to get around – something that made me even more nervous, as getting lost would potentially mean a LOT of extra walking. I decided to take a road that would hopefully not allow me to get too disoriented, but could lead somewhere I had never been before – South Boundary Street.

I began my walk along the side that still has bits of campus, seeing buildings I didn’t realize belonged to the College and the Meridian coffeehouse, another place I have never entered. I continued on, past the surprisingly large Baptist Student Center (I had no idea it existed) and some fairly friendly looking houses, most with porches. When I hit Newport Avenue, the sidewalk ended on my side of the street, so I crossed and continued on my way. Soon I saw a sign for a small street called Crump Lane, and I couldn’t resist taking it, even if there was a bit of an alley-esque feel to it. Much to my surprise, I ended up on South Henry Street, across from the William and Mary Law School. It seemed as though I chose the wrong side of Williamsburg to escape W&M. I decided to keep walking anyway, hoping that if I got terribly lost I could just turn around and eventually run into CW. I walked past what looked like some apartment buildings, and eventually saw a house that had different colored curtains in its windows. I was a fan. I continued past more apartment complexes – which really made sense, with the law school so near – until I got to Mimosa Drive. There was a sign warning that there was no outlet, but I figured I could detour down there and then continue along South Henry. Mimosa Drive was home to some REALLY small houses. Some were so small I wasn’t sure they held more than two or maybe three rooms. I walked past another complex – I can’t remember if it was retirement or apartment – and came to some neat looking houses. One was thin but very, very tall and another sort of looked like a barn. I figured Mimosa Drive would end soon, but I kept walking. It did end very quickly after that, so I turned around and made my way back to South Henry. I finally came upon a rather fancy-looking area and decided to risk arrest for being suspicious and have a look around. I was immediately uncomfortable. The homes were incredibly nice. They were large and brick and looked rather new. I’m pretty sure some of them were close to 5,000 square feet. After a walk around the neighborhood, I decided my adventure was finished.

This walk was one of the more interesting ones I’ve taken around Williamsburg – I tend to stick to Colonial Williamsburg. I didn’t realize how much property the College owns outside of the main campus area, although I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising. South Henry Street seemed very long and rather busy, although I was kind of surprised there were still so many trees and not as many houses around as I expected. I guess the law school and graduate student housing takes up quite a bit of space in that area, so that could be part of it. When I felt uncomfortable in the nice neighborhood I ended up in, I realized it was probably because it was so different from where I grew up. I mean, my town isn’t exceptionally poor and of course there were nicer houses, but all of these homes looked incredibly imposing. It was especially striking to see them so close to the much smaller houses I saw earlier. Income disparity happens everywhere, that’s not news to me, it just seemed as though they were two rather different areas. I didn’t see any people around, which I thought was kind of strange since it was a Sunday and the weather was pretty nice for January. Perhaps some of the homes were so new that they didn’t have owners yet, or Sunday afternoons are when most people who aren’t college students run errands. I wish I had gone somewhere to meet or at least observe people – buildings and houses can really only tell you so much – but I think it is also important to see where the people of the town really live. Now, it’s entirely possible that some of the homes I saw are rented by students, but I know that no students could afford to live in the impossibly nice homes I saw. It made me wonder where the people who live there work, if they’re Williamsburg natives, and what their perception of the town is. This assignment made me realize even more how little I know about Williamsburg and made me extremely curious to know more and discover what the people of this town are really like.


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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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