Returning to the Velvet Rut

In C-Ville Weekly, Jordy Yager writes about the pattern of middle-class kids moving away from Charlottesville for college, but returning a decade or two later. This is a pattern I’ve seen in the past 20 years—I’m 35—as many of my friends decided to shake the dust of this crummy town off of their feet and move to Brooklyn / Austin / Seattle / San Francisco, only to return 5, 10, or 15 years later, having figured out that Charlottesville isn’t so crummy after all. (Some, of course, remain happily in their new city.) Those of us who never left looked a bit lame to some (“no, seriously, he still just lives in Charlottesville”), but now look prescient for escaping the gravity of New York, never having needed to share a 600 square foot apartment with three roommates, the rent eating up 70% of our budgets.

Warning: If you’re sensitive to stories about privileged white kids becoming yuppies, this story is going to annoy the hell out of you.

9 Responses to “Returning to the Velvet Rut”


  • That IS a lot of self actualizing artsy fartsy yuppies! Everyone of our kids/families who have moved away, have come back. Just too much too offer in Cville. And while you can get better everything somewhere else, you cannot get it in a tight a space with more accessibility than Cville.

    So while our restaurant scene has stagnated, it still looks top notch when you roll around in Lynchburg or Roanoke. Traffic is getting bad at times of the day, until you spend a day driving in NOVA.

    Prolly the worst thing of this lot,and the one behind them, is their rush to the iPhone for texting during red lights, and then sitting in besotted oblivion at the green light waiting for them to return to driving.

  • Our restaurant scene is stagnated? Velvet rut indeed

  • Yep. Take a look at what richmond is doing these days. Dont get me wrong, we are blessed with what we have in this size city, but no one is out there on the cutting edge of anything except high prices. Take a look at Magpie or Heritage or Roosevelt.

    The last new joint we did in Cville was Pasture and it was a giant Meh.

  • Perhaps I am wrong, but I thought the P in yuppie stood for ‘professional’. When I think professional, I think of whatever the little Dardenians hatch into, not tabla instructors. Privileged? You betcha. White? Oh so very. But professionals? Not so much.

    And couldn’t this be more about the national trend of offspring returning to the nest for economic reasons, rather than some sort of geocentric c-ville fetish?

  • Do people still say meh? I thought that passed about 10 years ago, along with wassup.

    I love living in Cville but I am glad we have an inexpensive train service that runs right into Manhattan.

  • I’m hesitant to step into the none-too-subtle “Charlottesville versus the world” theme that the C-Ville Weekly has always been so fond of, but I’ll take a chance and dip a toe in.

    Perhaps it’s just the group of friends I had in Charlottesville, but my experience has been quite the opposite of the one observed by the article. Of the two dozen or so of us who left and settled in New York City, I can’t think of one who’s gone back. Perhaps it’s our careers: I know for myself, the sort of work I do isn’t possible in Charlottesville, and that’s true of at least a few of the others here. That’s not to say I (or they) plan to stay in NYC forever: I very much don’t. But when the time comes to move on, I’ll be looking for somewhere more like Charlottesville was back in the ’80s when my parents found it, before its love affair with big box stores and urban sprawl.

  • »And while you can get better everything somewhere else, you cannot get it in a tight a space with more accessibility than Cville.« – danpri

    »But when the time comes to move on, I’ll be looking for somewhere more like Charlottesville was back in the ’80s when my parents found it, before its love affair with big box stores and urban sprawl.« – Will M.

    The “walkable communities” seem to be working out just swimmingly fine, huh?

    A virtual magnet for all stripes of every type social engineer. “Tight” and “more accessibility” like 5200 channels and nothing on TV? There are far and few economic contributing job employers (beside municipal government and UVa) and hyperinflation has increasingly grown undeniable in every sense.

    “Somewhere more like… back in the 80′s… before….. big boxes and urban sprawl?” Good luck with that search, the march of any planning anymore is nothing but incessant high urban density. Ding-dong, the wicked old notions about what suburban-ism ever were are dead.

  • Perhaps I am wrong, but I thought the P in yuppie stood for ‘professional’. When I think professional, I think of whatever the little Dardenians hatch into, not tabla instructors. Privileged? You betcha. White? Oh so very. But professionals? Not so much.

    That’s totally fair. I went back and forth on the term to use, especially since “yuppie” is often derisive, but I settled on it for lack of anything better. What I was trying to capture is the idea that the highlighted people aren’t returning to become plumbers or secretaries, but for more highfalutin’ careers or…y’know, tabla instructors. I think I couldn’t really quibble with being labelled as a “yuppie” myself, although I’m thoroughly rural (yrppie?), because two out of three ain’t bad.

  • The unfortunate nature of . . . well, human perspective is that it can’t capture the whole of a complex thing, just a slice. I like this profile of this slice of Charlottesville. These prodigal sons of Charlottesville have plenty to contribute to our community and we should welcome them. In a way, I’m one of them.

    We left Charlottesville for Philadelphia so my wife could finish her studies. We’ve returned and are ready to dig deep roots and embrace this as our home, forever.

    In our absence, we’ve noticed amongst our own circle this phenomenon of return. I think this is an occurrence worth documenting and people worth profiling. Another phenomenon that grew during our first decade here, but flourished during our absence, are the transients and homeless that dot our intersections and our pedestrian areas. Perhaps the C-Ville Weekly could also spend sometime profiling them.

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