Last week Tracy and I spent a week visiting St. Louis, her to shoot a whopping 7 portrait sessions from among the adoring hoard of clients she left behind, and I to visit and catch up with as many fantastic people as I could pack in.
I was struck by how much I love St. Louis.
To wit, merely walking Melbrook lane (a stretch of road connecting the Wash U campus with the vibrant street known affectionately to locals as the Delmar Loop) evoked all kinds of grad school-era memories, which lumped together as on big ball of bittersweet, fond reminiscence. The smell of the old neighborhood trees and other nature in the heat of St. Louis summer took me back to everything from feeling high and proud walking home after giving my first summer school lecture on programming, to hopeless romantic melancholy of pining over whichever girl I was smitten with at the time (I was so cute back then, my strategy for dating and relationships would’ve been just precious if it hadn’t been so completely ineffective!). The years of memories unlocked by sights and smells endeared my old stomping grounds to me in the most delightful way.
Add in connections to friends and communities (I was fondly greeted with surprise as though back from the dead by at least a dozen people when out swing dancing), reference for favorite places (here’s looking at you, MoBot) and my body’s strange preference for the 100% humidity and high heat (it’s like a sauna, and the atmosphere is so delightfully full of oxygen!) and there’s little doubt that I’ll hold the ‘Lou as a sacred and special place for a long time.
Now then, this all might be a problem given my current state as a Denver resident and settling in as such via matrimonial ties: there’s probably no better way to discount the merits of where you are by clinging tightly to the merits of where you were. But rather it has me inspired: if I was able to fall so deeply in love with one town out of living there for 8 years, how quickly can I fall in love with another?
And so I have a quest: to swiftly collect memories, experiences and favorites among the new people, places and events that are here in Denver. I figure two new disciplines are in order to speed this process along: the first is to be a “yes” to any and all opportunities to be social/get out/experience life, and the second to forgo more often the sweet, sweet comfort zone of hanging out with my kick-butt fiancee in favor of other people. (The latter is the tougher, but I celebrate that as a healthy sign of our sustained fondness for one another.) This quest is along lines similar to the Gems of Denver (which is coming along nicely by the by: few clear winners but many worthy candidates), but more profound, I think. This is more about building meaningful friendships with people, which I suspect will do much more to give a happy anchoring to this town than a really kick-ass restaurant.