I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and sometimes you have to step away from something to really appreciate what you had.
I believe that I have always had an appreciation for where I come from, but honestly, now that I am a full-time tourist and a large part of my "job" is to investigate all the things that other cities and states have to offer, I grow to love my hometown all the more. It was a great place to grow up.
When I was a child, we didn't have a lot of money, but my mother was very creative and made sure that we were exposed to all kinds of culture. And I did the same for my children. I don't believe there is any other city in these amazing United States so generous as my beloved St. Louis.
There's just something about going away and then coming back... home.
These are my streets and highways. These are the people of my culture. I recognize the accent and the midwestern vernacular and smile at the sea of Missouri license plates.
The bluffs and the gentle rolling hills that make up the landscape in between rivers and lakes that would make an outdoorsman happy. The fields of cattle or crop, the wooded forests unique only to this area... they are home to me. My heart swells when I cross the state lines and see the Arch elegantly stretching up from the city to greet me or the miles and miles of green that demand to have their space next to the ever-sprawling cities.
No matter how long I have been away, these streets and businesses and beautiful country become familiar once again and I can usually find my way around as if I had never left.
I drive the same streets that I couldn't wait to get away from with love and affection. There is comfort and security in the familiar. And when I get to go around to all the spots that make it so special I just beam with pride being able to say that I am from St. Louis, MO.
The Zoo, the Science Center, the Art Museum, the History Museum, Grant's Farm... all FREE.
Then there is the most amazing offerings in theatre: The Muny (an outdoor theatre that has been around for over 100 years!), The Fox (once an elegant movie house then transformed into live theatre), Powell Symphony Hall, Opera St. Louis, Shakespeare Theatre Co... just to name a few!
We have The Arch (ride to the top and see for miles and miles!! or enjoy the free museum downstairs), The Missouri Botanical Gardens, (over 80 acres of the most beautifully kept grounds you could ever want to see!), The City Museum (an old shoe warehouse turned into a massive playground made completely of recycled materials!), The Museum of Transportation, The Museum of Science and History, The Court House, The Anheuser-Busch Brewery, the St. Louis Cardinals Baseball team and so much more!!
I should have been a St. Louis concierge, because I love this town so much. Too bad it gets cold in the winter. Can't do it. But it makes me love it all the more when I get to come back home.
I may not like the city-life any more. I am far happier away from the hustle and bustle of things. And I have grown to love the ocean so much that it continues to pull me away and then there is the gypsy spirit that begs me to go and see what else I haven't laid eyes on and so I go...
No matter where I roam, St. Louis will always be my home.