Vilas Annavarapu: Fourth-year College student
Dream job: Crossword editor for The New York Times
If you were a plant or an animal, what would you be?: My betta fish, Giovanni
Deal Breakers: Pretending you're in the D.C. metro area when you're in Springfield
Sydney Cubbage: Fourth-year College student
Dream job: FBI agent
If you were a plant or an animal, what would you be?: Wolf
Deal Breakers: Doesn’t like Marvel
Vilas and Sydney met outside Alderman around noon.
Vilas: We messaged a little bit beforehand, so [we were] not just going in completely cold. I really wanted to do something that was more than just, I don't know, bagels on the Corner and try something a bit more adventurous. So I asked if she was down to do something crazy or a little non-traditional, and she was like, “Yeah!” I asked her if there’s anything she hasn’t done in Charlottesville before. And she said, “I haven’t been to Monticello in a while, nor have I been to the Fralin,” so I said I haven't been to Monticello for years. So we decided to go to Monticello and do the Sally Hemings tour. Also any opportunity, I think, in The [Cavalier] Daily or just among general discussion, [that] race can be brought up, I think that's important, and I hope more students generally go and experience what the Sally Hemings tour is like and the thought that went into it.
Sydney: He texted me in the evening, and it was Thursday. He asked me what I'd be interested in and if I’d want to do something low-key, or if I would want to do something kind of different. So we ended up deciding on going up to Monticello, and he was interested in the Sally Hemings tour, so we had decided on that. We had talked a little bit throughout Friday, kind of just about the tour and Monticello in general. I had a car, so I decided to drive us up there and we met out front of Alderman.
Vilas: We went to Monticello, and she picked me up, and it was a really beautiful day. We got to the ticket office, and I had bought my ticket earlier that day. And when we got there he was like, “I'm so sorry. They're all sold out.” So we freaked out a little bit because I'd bought it and they have a no-returns policy, and she didn't have one because she was just planning on getting one there.
Sydney: I didn't realize that he had already bought his ticket, and I had not bought mine. So we went up to Monticello, and I went to purchase a ticket, and [the ticket vendor] said they were all sold out. They were all sold out because it was Presidents’ Day weekend, apparently. We wanted to try to get just one ticket, but they said they couldn't do that.
Vilas: Apparently it's Presidents’ Day weekend, and I did not know that, so that’s why it was crowded … When we were standing at the ticket counter, I just really didn't know what to do for a minute, so that was a little awkward but it worked itself out pretty well … We basically moved my ticket to another day, and we just went around the museum and looked around. There was a video they showed about Thomas Jefferson's life that we looked at, and then we just saw the museum and just hung out there for a bit before coming back.
Sydney: They had a film there about Monticello in general and Thomas Jefferson, so we watched that. It was probably like 20 minutes to half an hour maybe, and then we went and explored the museum. That was really nice because I don't think I've ever been to that part. We just went and explored the bottom and then the top [of the building] and we were talking throughout it. He was a pretty easy guy to talk to. We talked pretty much the whole way there and the way back.
Vilas: I really liked seeing the focus placed on enslaved laborers throughout the exhibit because that has been something Monticello and U.Va., for that matter, have really struggled to discuss and unpack in the past. So we talked a lot about that and the different profiles of workers that they had and their role in making Monticello what it is. And I think, going into this, I was not really sure if they would do a good job, and I thought I might be frustrated. But it was really cool to see a lot of the work that they did in displaying the history, so we talked about that. But we also talked about our lives and stuff and our friends while we were going through the museum and commenting on different things we thought were interesting.
Sydney: I can't remember exactly what [his thesis was], but it was dealing with race and politics, I believe, because he said that he was passionate about researching that kind of stuff. So, I thought it was nice to know that we could get to see some different sides of, not just Thomas Jefferson, but also the slaves and to see how they were. It was nice to kind of review that history because I'm a history minor.
Vilas: She's super close to her roommates which I appreciate, and she talked about how she met them. She doesn't like scary movies, but her roommates, knowing that, will scare her during scary movies.
Sydney: We ended up talking about the topic of [the film] “Parasite,” and he was talking about the movie “Us” and “Get Out.” I haven't seen any of those, although I have been wanting to see them, so, he was just talking about those and what they were and recommending them. I told him some stories of my best friends because my best friend loves horror movies. I was telling him some funny stories about how she would scare me during horror movies.
Vilas: She buys small gifts for her friends, which I was huge fan of, because I think we've as a society made this transition to acts of love for everybody. So I told her that I bought my mom cookies for Valentine's Day and had them delivered to her office. We talked about how we like doing things for the people we’re really close to.
Sydney: I found it really interesting that he's got a job as a teacher working down in Mississippi after he graduates. He lives in a Lawn room, which is something that I had wanted to do as a first-year, but I ended up not.
Vilas: Going into this experience, in the spirit of being weird and non-normative, I had a list of crazy things I wanted to do, just to see what the response would be, but then I thought maybe that would be a little excessive. I wanted to take my shoes and socks off when I walked into the car, constantly look over my shoulder, or pretend to swat a fly that wasn't there. I was gonna do all these different things, but she's really sweet and very nice and I was like, ‘I would rather just make a good first impression.’
Sydney: He’s a really talkative person, I mean, he's just kind of a very friendly guy, and he wasn't shy. I think he was just an easy guy to talk to, so there weren't any real awkward moments. There weren't any red flags, either. I thought he was a really nice guy. He seems like someone who could be a really good friend.
Vilas: There was never a point where I didn't want to be there, you know, and I think when you're just randomly meeting a person for the first time the dynamic could be a little bit off, but there's always something interesting to talk about. I think when you go into something like this, it's hard to really have expectations. My goal was just that this experience was not going to be similar to other things in the past, and it would be something spontaneous and random and hopefully it was that.
Sydney: I thought it was going to be really awkward, going on a date with someone that you’ve never even met before, so I was kind of nervous about that. But the conversation I think flowed fairly well, so that kind of made me a little less nervous. He seems to be motivated, and I have a feeling he’ll probably be successful in life, just based on how he seemed to be very dedicated to his thesis.
Vilas: I think people should be adventurous. They should explore narratives that they might not otherwise come across, and they should do it with cool people who are willing to engage them. I got to have that experience and it was really awesome, and I'm sure we're going to hang out at another point before we both graduate.
Want to be featured in a future edition of Love Connection? Apply here!