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Ode To A Place I’ve Called Home

So here I sit, comfortable on my couch, looking out my window as I write this. There’s a cat curled up on my feet, as comfy as she’s ever been - I’ve moved poor Bellatrix around so much in her four years on this planet, I’m shocked she doesn’t hate the living daylights out of me by now.

But I digress.

I’ve been in St. Louis for exactly one year and five days, as of today. On November 5, 2011, I pulled into the Central West End in my little tiny Yaris, cats in tow, and started the next chapter of my life in the city that’s the Gateway to the West. I’d been in this city exactly three times in my life prior to my move here; once, driving through on my way home from Colorado in December 2009; once, in February 2011, to meet people from Twitter that I now consider some of my closest friends; and once, in September 2011, to surprise one of said friends on her birthday, and also to interview for my current job.

For all its quirks and nuances, for all its strangely divided neighborhoods and weird foods and sports teams I don’t associate with, for all it takes me forever to get back east from here, and despite the occasionally terrifying weather - 

- I love this city.

I love Forest Park, how quiet it is despite being in the middle of the city. I love the trails, and the zoo, and the dog-friendliness of it (there’s a water bowl at every water bubbler, it’s so cute.) I love how majestic the art museum is at the top of the hill. I love the Steinberg Rink, where I once went to skate during a Bruins-Habs game - just skated by myself, hockey game in my ears, pulling in Dave Goucher and Bob Beers on my phone. I love Lindell Boulevard, and all the beautiful houses I used to run by.

I love Washington Avenue, for only having been there a few times; I love the downtown area in general. Scottrade Center is amazing; it’s seriously one of my favorite places to see a game in the whole NHL. Blues fans are hilarious and amazing; they have great senses of humor and a wonderful sense of community. Ain’t no get together like a Game Time Get Together, and that’s a fact. I love(d) the Tin Can, despite having my car broken into outside of it one time. Maggie O’s is amazing, too; I spent all of Cards opening day at Maggie O’s laughing at people, and also watched the huge hailstorm happen from there, too. 

I love the Loop. Oh, I love the Loop. I spent at least an hour there every day for a few months straight, walking red puppy on our little trip down Skinker to Delmar, down Delmar to Kingsland, and back. I loved that Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s always had water for the pup, which was especially great on those 105 degree days. The first time I ever went out with my coworkers was in the Loop, to Blueberry Hill. Every time I’ve been to Cicero’s I’ve left satisfied; and oh, let me talk about Cheeseology’s magicalness. 

I als love the Central West End - it was a great home for me for six months. I loved walking down Euclid to Maryland to watch sports at Bar Louie, to get coffee at Coffee Cartel, or to get a few things at Straubs, the fancy pants grocery store. In another direction was the MetroLink, my ride to Blues games; and west, access to Forest Park. At a bar there, watching Bruins/Rangers one time, I met a man who’d given up his seat to game 4 of the 2004 World Series to a college kid, a Red Sox fan from Boston. St. Louis has amazing people. 

Those are the areas I spent the majority of my time in, but there are other places I love, as well. Downtown Maplewood, where The Post is located, where many a GTGT was held. Cousin Hugo’s, in Brentwood (I think? All those little municipalities run together, I dont even know) where I went my first night in St. Louis. And Soulard, where I’ve never had an un-fun time; where Mardi Gras is held (and Mardi Gras here is AMAZING!), where the Tap and Run took place and where I’m going tonight, incidentally; one night, I sang bad karaoke in Soulard until forever in the morning with two of my favorite people, made some silly decisions, and loved every minute of it.

Travelling from here is different, too - in a good way. You can head in any direction and get to any number of places; it’s different from just always heading west from Boston, where you always go through the same states in the same direction and the only variables are - north or south? From here, I’ve seen Dallas, Nashville, Kansas City and Oklahoma City for the first time, and Chicago a while lot more times than I ever had before. Returning from trips east always makes me smile, too; it always seems to be at night, and every time, there’s the Arch, lit up and brilliant, lights reflecting on the water of the mighty Mississippi, welcoming me home. It’s daunting, the thought of crossing the Mississippi every time you head east from the city. It used to be a major milestone on my family’s trips west; now it’s just another bridge to cross to go occasionally hang out with friends.

Well - I guess now it’s a milestone, again.

More than anything, I’ll miss the people here. I’ll miss all the friends I made through Stray Rescue; mostly, though, I’ll miss my Blues friends. I love all of you guys. You’ve made my time here amazing and memorable and you’ve made it incredibly hard to leave here. From my first night here - which was a giant party, I still don’t exactly know how I got from place to place that night - to the many Blues games I hung out with you all at - to the Marathon and Tap ‘n Run - to game nights - to EpicDec - to everything else in between. 

I’m not forgetting you anytime soon, St. Louis, and I will miss you like I never thought I’d miss anyplace other than my original home. You WERE home for a year, and you were a great home.