Ten things I did not think St. Louis would be:

  1. Friendly. I stopped to get gas before work last Wednesday. I went inside the station market to get some coffee and spearmint Altoids. The man at the counter greeted me with a smile and a cheery, “Good morning. How are you?” He was an older man. I replied, “Good. Tired, but good.” He said, “It wouldn’t be because you were staying up late watching a game, would it?” I said, “Actually no,” I took the risk of assuming, “…the Cardinals?” He acted as if he was truly appalled by my ignorance, chuckled, and let me know he was referring to a Lakers game. I asked if they’d won. Of course they’d won, was his reply, accompanied by an additional chuckle. He then said they play again Thursday (I now know, for all of you who are similarly appalled at my ignorance, that the NBA Championships just finished up and the Lakers won in Game 7). I smiled and said I’d try to watch. He returned my smile and, in a distinctively father-like way, told me, “You do that. And then come back here and tell me about it.” Another chuckle. Somewhere in the course of that conversation I found out his name is Ron. And that’s St. Louis. The checker at the gas station starts your day off right with warm smiles and laughs.
  2. Old. The homes. Oh my, so many nice homes. I grew up with cookie cutter neighborhoods and, what we call track homes. You pick one out after walking through a series of models and then they build it for you. Five houses down the street, your neighbors live in an exact replica of your own house. Not here. Here homes are not stucco, they are brick and packed with character. At least this is how my mom described it while walking back to the car one night after a jazz concert in the St. Louis Botanical Gardens (which we enjoyed under a setting sun, lying on a blanket eating strawberries and chocolate, and sipping Old Vine Zinfandel).
  3. Noisy. My apartment complex, my apartment in particular produces the strangest noises. I’m nine floors up. Sometimes the wind up here has me fearing it is going to become so angry it will just blow my building over. Then I look down at the trees in the courtyard below, and they’re barely moving. Thus, I have truly learned, in the experiential sense of the word, it sounds windier higher up. There’s also this random loud clicking noise that my walls make periodically at night. I’m sure they do during the day too. My sense of hearing is understandably heightened to the noise at night. There are also a couple residences on my floor that normally get home pretty late. The unlocking, opening and closing of their doors pierces through my thin walls. The first few times this occurred I had trouble placing the sounds, and I’m going to be honest, I was a bit scared someone was unlocking my door…
  4. Easy. The freeway system is perfect for a girl who still needs to make an ‘L’ shape with her left index finger and thumb to tell her left from her right.
  5. Beautiful. All this humidity not only makes for incredible spontaneous rain and thunderstorms (after which the sun breaks right on through again, full shine), but it makes for a lot of lush green grass and trees. I laughed to myself as my mom and I made our way across Missouri at how surprised I was to see grass that grows naturally. It truly is a beautiful state. As we drove toward St. Louis, the sight of verdant pastures, complete with big red barns, cattle and horses lifted my slightly nervous spirit. I thought Missouri would be flat but the land rolls and is spotted with patches of rock. I thought the green would be monotonous, but the shades are, to my very finite mind, infinite. Some of the trees have leaves on the top of which are deep and rich maroons. Juxtapose all this green against a vast blue sky (that, some days I almost think someone painted) and I’m so stunned some days that I’ve had childish epiphanies that God must have been intentional about color choice.
  6. Free. There are fun, free things to do here – things like jazz in large botanical gardens, things like Hamlet in Forest Park, things like a zoo in Forest Park, things like what Pope John Paul VI called “the outstanding cathedral of the Americas.” There are also not-so-free things to do here that I want to pay for – things like an exhibition at the St. Louis History Museum called “Vatican Splendors,” with relics on display that have not yet been on display before (ever), and relics that have not been on display outside of Rome. Yes, I went and enjoyed three slow, poignant hours of this splendor yesterday afternoon.
  7. Young. There are two large universities in St. Louis, and a smattering of smaller ones. This makes for a lot of young people. I comment on it not necessarily because I am excited about it. I’m not not excited about it. I just didn’t expect it. (There are also a lot of babies. Or maybe I’m getting to an age where I am keenly aware of babies. Oh, that biological clock…)
  8. Sticky. Yes, it is very sticky. I am quickly becoming use to it, and am of the opinion that the dry, one hundred and twenty-five of Las Vegas is a fair exchange for the humid ninety of St. Louis.
  9. Slow. It’s a strange city. I don’t see a ton of people walking on the streets. Not that they don’t. There’s just a significantly smaller street strolling population compared to, say LA or NY or even LV. And, although there are joggers, there certainly are not as many. Perhaps that has less to do with slowness than it does with my number eight, stickiness.
  10. And finally, fanatical. I arrived on the night of the Cardinals, Brewers game. The Cardinals won. There was an after party on the patio of Starbucks complete with draft beer and karaoke. Most wore jerseys. Granted, the Starbucks is connected to the Hilton but it’s still Starbucks. The fountain in the middle of the business district of downtown St. Louis, right next to the Federal Reserve, flows with pink water. I suppose if they made it Cardinal red tourists, it could easily and creepily be mistaken for blood. So, it’s pink. I have not yet asked if this is temporary, as in, just for baseball season, or if they honor their most beloved red birds all year-long. However, perhaps it’s snobby of me, perhaps it is objectively endearing and the fountain’s not eliciting in me the proper emotional response, but I hope not. I just like clear water, whether it’s coming out of my tap or on display in the middle of a city center.

2 responses to “Ten things I did not think St. Louis would be:

  1. Wow… you have no idea how badly I want to buy a plane ticket and flight right into town to see you! Someday, our lives will afford such visits 🙂 But until then, live it up for me in St. Louis, my dear! And take plenty of photos… love you!

  2. Haha, this post made me laugh. Especially the line where you noticed that grass actually grows naturally. Oh the things we miss when we grow up in Vegas!

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