I’m coping with leaving St. Louis. DC’s “smashburgers” are a joke, and the barbecue doesn’t come close, but I’m dealing.
What makes it harder is that this freakin’ city is haunting me. It’s St. Louis. No one ever talks about St. Louis (except when the news is blowing a riot way out of proportion or pulling stats on murder rates, of course). So *why* are mentions of it cropping up everywhere?
Watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a passing side-comment of a scene, a family mentions moving to Missouri. Then confirms they’re going to St. Louis for work.
A medical podcast I listen to had an episode about the time Chicago reversed its river, literally dumping its shit on St. Louis (and ruining the Mississippi River for over a century. Thanks, Chicago).
Then I’m helping my boss with something when we’re interrupted by a spam sales call. He says they’re always calling him, these people in St. Louis.
My husband also got a recent StitchFix delivery that included a shirt from St. Louis. How serendipitous!
I get these aren’t big deals, and my husband says I only notice *because* I’m on the lookout for St. Louis references. Maybe he’s right, but it doesn’t change the fact that I am trying to move on, and St. Louis refuses to let me!
A year ago today, I drove into St. Louis for the first time, full of apprehension and excitement in equal parts. I still remember the feeling I got when I came around the bend and saw the Arch from the highway while still in Illinois. Like my heart had been blown through a bubble wand.
This year has held highs and lows, as time is wont to do, but I am still so in love with this city. It isn’t perfect, but it’s whole-heartedly mine. Whether or not St. Louis is our ‘forever home’ remains to be seen, but I am so thankful we made the leap of faith to leave our family and friends and venture to a place we’d never experienced. I have grown so much in this past year, gaining confidence and settling into who I really am at my core. We’ve made some amazing new friendships, eaten some epic food, and had more adventures this year than I can count.
So here’s to you, St. Louis, and the year(s) to come!
So as I was driving home the other day, I was trying to think of the right words to explain the love I feel for where I am. Every time I try to simply say “I love Saint Louis,” it doesn’t capture what I mean. My husband is able to make it smaller, explain away the magic with rationalities like the convenience of city living or the newness of this environment for us.
And he’s right, but he’s also so very wrong. When I say how much I love it here, I mean so much more than the architecture or stores or restaurants or people. They’re all fantastic, sure. But there’s something…more. Deeper. More pure. It’s a knowledge in my bones that I belong in the world. It’s magical. It’s home.
And as I reached my exit, I glanced up at the bridge that spans the highway like I always do — there’s often someone standing up there, just watching the cars pass, and for whatever reason, it makes me smile. Today, though, was more magic.
Someone had written a marriage proposal in painted cups wedged into the chain link barricade. Whoever Jonna (Ionna? Tonna?) is, I hope they say yes.
And for all the other people dating other Jonnas who take 44E home, tonight may get a little awkward.
I just reread my post after we’d been in Saint Louis for a month and kept thinking how adorable it was/we were. So bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and timid of our surroundings.
There is still SO much for us to do and explore and conquer, but damn have we gotten comfortable, too. We’ve found a neighborhood bar for football games in I-Tap, or Tom’s for trivia, awesome chicken tenders, and karaoke on the weekends. Oof, I’ll have to write a post (or several) about all the amazing food we’ve had.
I love Forest Park, even (especially?) the pathways that intimidated me at first, with the shadowed bridges and wooded trails. I have no fear wandering the park alone, or sending my husband to take his daily walks through the park or the neighborhood by himself. Sure, we’re aware of our surroundings, especially at night, but no more so than we were back in the DC area.
The Grove is also one of our favorite neighborhoods. It is home to my husband’s favorite sandwich spot: Gramophone (mention either the Grove or Gramophone to him and prepare to hear at length about the Alcatraz sandwich). It’s also the location of Urban Chestnut Brewery, which might be my favorite of the local breweries. I’ll probably put out a post about all the beer we’ve had since moving at some point, too.
My husband found his coffee shop in Kaldi’s Coffee in Demun — which is also his favorite residential neighborhood to wander through, enjoying the different houses. He’s also recently started using our French press to make coffee at home (that damn Crate & Barrel coffee maker gathering dust on the shelf in our front closet). With Whole Foods and Straubs Market each a block away, we’ve had no excuse not to cook at home most nights, and it’s encouraged us to try a lot of new recipes and cook with ingredients we just hadn’t before, like tofu and tilapia. Also, I’ve never been into seafood the way I have been here. It’s so weird, being landlocked, but the fish is flown in fresh daily to most places.
I could go on and on, and plan to be better at posting about our adventures and discoveries, but for now, let me just say: I freaking love Saint Louis. I love the Midwest, I love living in an urban setting with lush parks and nature steps away. Guys, there’s also NO TRAFFIC. It’s so easy to get to hiking trails, or the mall, or my office (20 min to go about the same miles), or Missouri wine country… There’s always some sort of festival or event going on, and most of the time it’s free. Seriously, everyone come visit. Or come stay. Six months in, and I’m not looking back.