Wednesday, March 25, 2015

You Can Find Me in St. Louie

Most people hold a certain place in their heart for their hometown. Then there are St. Louisans. Try as they might to leave their beloved Lou, the only ones who have ever successfully made a clean break for it are Jon Hamm, Andy Cohen and Karlie Kloss. Even they have a hard time not donning their proud and true Cardinal red through the streets of New York and L.A. Those of us who have tried to make home elsewhere usually come back for a myriad of reasons. The most overarching being that we have a difficult time making friends with NSLs (non-St. Louisans). Because all we do is talk about St. Louis, and evidently that comes off as "annoying" and "elitist" to those who hail from cities lacking a tall and beautiful silver monument of architectural beauty that was erected in 1963.

The ones who move away only to come back to St. Louis, and I can say this being that I am one, we are the worst type of people in this world. We're the ones who had to get away for the high flying adventure of a bigger, more cosmopolitan city then decide to move back to "be the change we want to see in the city." So we pack up our bags, call up our old crew and demand a welcome back party, not at the trendiest place in town, because it's really not that trendy in comparison to the Chicago spots, but the most dive bar place we could find. St. Louis is grunge chic, not trendy chic. Once back we make a lot of comments like that. It takes over a year and a half, or perhaps eternity (time will tell) to claim full-heartedly that we are here for good. Sentences often start with "I just moved back from Chicago so I'm not sure..." Alternatively, they could also start as the inverse of that precursor by saying "I'm pretty sure after living in Chicago for a few years..." St. Louis replants can never fully disassociate themselves from their fleeting mistress city because that would be in a sense admitting we didn't seize the opportunity when we had it. When in fact we did take it, but came here in the name of goodwill and loyalty. Two things people in this world could use some more of. In St. Louis though we're bred to realize those traits. Especially if you went to a private school (hey!).

In a tad more serious tone, moving back here truly has its hardships.  You come back ready to instill your knowledge and culture on everyone and then you find....things remain the same. Nelson Mandela said it best: "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." Of course the city has changed, maybe slightly in some places and more drastically in others. The people who come back here though, in my opinion (and again I say this as one), have the most responsibility on their shoulders. We are the ones who have to constantly remind ourselves why it is we wanted to be here and not where we were, then do those things. Most importantly, we need to lean on those who never saw a reason to leave in the first place. It's a tricky task as "home" often remains exactly as we see it, year after year and even move after move. I can't put into words exactly what it means to me, nor would I be willing to try even if I could as it would not be representative in the least of everyone else who calls this city "home." I will say this though: despite all its pitfalls and mockeries, you won't find a home base get more starry eyed and giddy when they talk about their hometown. I'm pretty sure after living in Chicago for a few years that I can say that with all certainty.

{Image via Pinterest}