Autumn wolfrey | hello rva
Autumn Wolfrey is a bit of an enigma. She is has been in my life for several years and one thing that has always struck me about her is how boldly she has lived her life. Over the past few years, she has embarked on many adventures where she has traveled far and wide, immersing herself into brand new experiences and cultures. She has participated in WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) where she has worked outdoors with new people in places she's never seen before. She has even run away with a traveling carnival where she met her South African fiance. I was so excited to have her a part of Hello RVA so that I can at least share a small part of her wayward spirit and the thoughts that inspire her to dive headfirst into experiences that might terrify most people.
Adventurer, wanderer and collector of experiences.
In which we talk about travel, trying new things and the need to challenge ourselves.
USE THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOURSELF.
Flakey... determined... and I dunno. When I think of myself, I always get the word "pursuit" in my mind. I'm always pursuing something, always going after something... or someone. Always.
TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU DO.
I was pretty anchored in Richmond my whole life. And then over the past couple of years, I had a big change in my mindset and I just decided to leave. So, what I've been doing since then is trying to experience as much as I can while keeping myself afloat financially and finding work where I can. I guess I've taken the route of collecting experiences rather than the conventional societal path of going to college and doing that kind of thing. School is not for me. So, I skipped out on that. Now I'm just meeting as many different kinds of people as I can. What I do when I leave Richmond and when I meet people is to try to walk in their shoes when I'm spending time with them.
Recently, I was in Wyoming for the winter, which is a place I've never been and it's a bizarre environment - very barren and unforgiving. The people there have been molded by that. So, it took some assimilating to, but it was interesting to see how they survive a winter. Then I was on a sailboat with a friend who has been sailing for the last two years and that was totally insane because its a very bare bones lifestyle. Not a lot of luxuries... like showers! So that was interesting too. I guess what I do is... to totally copyright infringe upon Jonathan Safran Foer... I'm kind of a collector of experiences and people. Because the people I spend time with never really leave me.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER HOBBIES OR SIDE GIGS YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT?
I wish I had more hobbies and side gigs. I feel like it takes so much energy for me to just decide on my next course of action and getting myself there that I don't really have a lot of extra energy or time for hobbies and stuff. This is really boring, but I love needle point. It's one of the things I do to calm myself down and it's one of the only things I've found in my life that quiets my brain. Because it's counted cross stitch, so I guess it appeals to some hidden OCD that I have. It's the only real hobby I can speak of. My grandma taught me to do it when I was younger.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN RICHMOND AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE?
Well... my mom brought me here when she popped me out at MCV. [I was] born and raised in Richmond... It's a huge part of my identity. When I go other places and meet new people - as much as I would like to separate from some aspects of Richmond - it's still a huge part of who I am. It's a good identifier. You know, when you're outside of your comfort zone and [away from] everyone that you know and everything that you've been around, you have to have something that speaks for you. The experiences I've had in Richmond and the things I've done in Richmond have definitely spoken for me when I can't think of what to say about myself.
I have a love/hate relationship with Richmond. I think everybody does. This place is fucking crazy. Sometimes I try not to let Richmond define me too much. Because that's probably the reason why I left. I got too wrapped up in it. The culture and the scene of Richmond can be very cliquey and exclusive.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE HAUNTS IN THE CITY AND WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
(Um. Cross stitch. Read the paper and watch NBC?) If I'm thinking of the haunts I really like in Richmond, I have to go back to when I was a teenager and I was much more reckless (and had way more fun.) One of my favorite places I used to go when I was younger was the cookie factory before it was turned into lofts. I got a huge kick out of getting into that place at night, and going up onto the roof where the water tower is. It always made me feel like a bad ass to break into that building and do that. Now that I'm grown up, I like to eat a lot. So, Ipanema Cafe is one of my favorite places to go. Everything on their menu is so on point. It's like, my comfort food and I love it.
YOU'VE BEEN DOING A LOT OF TRAVELING, FARMING AND WORKING OUTDOORS. WHAT MADE YOU START GOING AFTER THAT SORT OF THING?
With the farming, honestly, I had some selfish motives with that. It just goes back to wanting to get out of the Richmond rat race. I wanted to get into a more rural setting and try my hand at something like that, because I've never really had any agricultural experience. I know that I love being outside and I didn't feel good because I was working in these closed off office environments. I had all these jobs that were good jobs and they paid well, but I was miserable when I came home from work from looking at computer screens and being under fluorescent lights all day long. So, I was like, "what can I do where I'm still being productive and I'm still working but I can be outside and get my hands in the dirt and experience different lifestyles?" I was also interested in self sustaining projects and I hope to one day, whenever I settle down, to have a little piece of land that is self sustaining and I wanted to learn more about that.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR TRAVELS?
For me personally, traveling and putting myself in uncomfortable situations has been really, really great for my mental health. I'm the type of person that is scared of everything. The open ocean is terrifying to me. So I was like, "I should probably go sit on a boat and prove to myself that I can do it." I also hate cold weather. I hate the winter time. But the job in Wyoming was a really good opportunity and something I've never seen before. That's the most rewarding thing... looking back and seeing how much I've changed and how many things I've pushed myself into and pushed myself through. When I go into it, I'm like, "dude, this is going to fucking suck" but then when I'm on the other side of it, I've met all these different kinds of people and I've done things that are amazing. When I was traveling with the Carnival, the first week I was there, it was exhausting, it was 16 hours a day, and everyone that was there - all of the hardened carnies - were like, "the first week is always the worst. Just give it another week, just stay here, you'll like it, you'll make money." I stuck it out and I ended up doing things with the carnival that I never, ever, thought that I could do. Like, pulling a kiddie Ferris Wheel behind a bucket truck up and down a mountain in Fort Payne, Alabama in a convoy of trucks that only other dudes were driving. I was the only girl who was pulling loads. So, that was cool. I've proven to myself that I can do stuff. I can do the thing.
WHAT KIND OF THINGS INSPIRE YOU AND HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED?
I'm inspired by the promise of something better and something new. I believe you can always improve your situation and improve yourself. The thing that motivates me is when I've been home in Richmond for two weeks and I get restless and then my mom starts talking about renting a room downtown and getting a job... hen I'm like, "okay, gotta go!" That's super motivating.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ANYONE SEEKING TO BREAK INTO THINGS LIKE THIS?
Don't limit yourself! If you find [a job] ...that would allow you to travel and you read the job description and they're like, "you need to be able to do this, this and this." Even if you've never done it before or you don't think you're necessarily going to be good at it, at least give it a shot. I didn't think I could hack it at a lot of these jobs and things that I went to do but I ended up being able to do it and being good at it. So, don't limit yourself and don't let fear affect your decision on whatever you do. Don't let the what-ifs lock you into place... Also do not fuck around with material possessions. I've had to let go of so many things that I thought were important to me and then at the last minute you get on the plane, your baggage is overweight and your plane takes off in fifteen minutes. I've had to chuck stuff in the trash so I could get on the plane and sometimes you're like, "oh fuck, my stuff!" But then you're on a plane to Peurto Rico. So, don't get attached to material things if you want to travel. It's good to pack light. Things come and go.