When Richmond Felt Like Rehab
“My name is Victoria Matoska. I’m from Kenosha, Wisconsin. That’s where I lived the majority of my life.
“If you ever look at those—they always have them on Facebook—the maps of the U.S. and it’ll be a red dot for cities that have more bars than churches or more bars than grocery stores, and the area in Wisconsin that I was living in is just completely dotted in red.
“I walked a mile to work and I probably passed about 15 or 16 bars, and so it was just this continual self-destructive, very depressed—winter is very long—and when you have limited funds, you’re kind of stuck indoors and the cheapest thrill is alcohol.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t pay my rent, so I was homeless. I had a storage unit and I had a backpack, and it was like whatever I could fit in my backpack. It’s very scary. You don’t know when you’re going to eat. I really feel like I probably didn’t sleep for like three months.
“And then in 2011—it was probably about June—for the most part I was either sleeping on the beach or sleeping on the pier and not really telling many people about it. So it got to the point where my friend Tom came and picked me up when he found that I had been sleeping on the pier, and I kinda broke down and he was the one who was just like, ‘you need to go to your parents’, and at that time my dad had received a promotion and he had moved here. And I think it was two weeks later, I flew to Richmond.
“So it was a lot of spending time in the city, exploring by myself and just kind of giving me a lot of time to work on myself.
“My first job was Panera, across from the Chesterfield Towncenter in Midlothian, the mall.
“I am married, with a stepson and baby. We’ve been together for three years now. I got a really good job here. I made really good friends. I just feel so much better. Like it’s taking quite a few years, but I feel like Richmond has almost been like a hospital for me in a weird way. Like rehab.
“I feel like I’ve taken the good memories from Kenosha, but I feel like Richmond is my home now, and it feels good to be able to say that, and it feels good to kindof feel normal. Like, I feel like I’m so close to just being 100% me now. And I feel like it has everything to do with this place.”