a love letter to st. louis
For the past five years, I’ve viewed you as my home away from home. Which I realize doesn’t make a lot of sense, because I only lived with you for two years. I was a full-time student, working three jobs, living in a house with five other women. I was in complete transition in my life. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now, what a huge thing this is – to be in transition in life. It affects how you act, how you feel, how you process things. I remember being more worried about how I would adapt to this transition than I actually had trouble with said adaption. It felt like an easy transition, perhaps because I was so excited.
You are an amazingly fun city to live in, and probably even more fun when you actually have money to spend to do fun things. But there is so much to do that is free, so much to enjoy, that I had the blessing to experience you for the two years I did. Visits to the museum and the zoo and the Botanical gardens… authentic English Tea rooms and Scott Joplin’s house… Apple Butter Festivals and spiritual hermitages…Bread Co and the Archway… Birds and Bees Kaldi’s Coffee and many many hoursstudying at Starbucks while my fellow seminary student barista made me the perfect mint tea… I just have so much love for you.
That’s not to say it was all easy. There were certainly parts that were challenging. I didn’t fit it with most people on campus, and I won’t get into the details of why or how I was treated. But it was bad enough that I almost quit after my first semester. It was either “adapt or die.” I’m not much of a quitter. So I adapted.
But I wasn’t willing to change who I was, so aside from the few people on campus, I looked for community at my church. And this is precisely why I consider you my home away from home. Because I found it. I found my tribe. I found an pastor who shared my love for music and theology, a mentor who was willing to ask me tough questions, a group of part-time children’s ministry staff that made me laugh like no one else did, a small group that shared my loved for buying local and sustainable living. And none of it was an accident, because God ordained it all. I didn’t go looking for these people. God placed them in my path because I was too afraid to go looking. This was such a reminder of how much he loves me.
When I stopped by to visit you about three years ago, for Sherdonna’s CD release party, it was too quick a trip. I didn’t get the chance to really enjoy you again. So when I had the chance to visit this summer, I wanted to make sure to make it count. I had lunch and coffee and dinner and all kinds of other fun things for five days. I didn’t just go to see people, I went to process and rest and get some wise counsel from some dear people at the seminary. And some dear people from my old church… people I love and trust and people I lived near for two years, but somehow God gave me these people as friends for life.
Between Thai Pizza on the Loop and Comet Coffee in Clayton and 5 Star Burgers in Kirkwood, God reminded me why you are my home away from home. Why I love these people and I love you. While worshiping in a new yet oh so familiar way, I found myself homesick for the old and excited by all that is new at the same time. It was confusing and wonderful.You had the best of me and the worst of me and I will always love having you in my life. The people you gave me helped change me, and I want to thank you for providing a safe place for me to grow and stretch and be transformed by God.
You have my heart, St. Louis. I can’t explain it and I can’t deny it. You placed me in a situation that broke me down and then you gave me beautiful people that put me back together again. I can never repay you for all that you did. But thank you. Thank you for the time, the people, the joy, and the love.
This is me and Sherdonna.