January 14, 2012, St. Louis: If it weren’t for visiting family, my mother would have been hard pressed to meet me in St. Louis. In the 31 years since moving away, she’s never looked back. It was never a place she felt at home. Having left behind a lovely walkable neighborhood in Montreal myself a few weeks back just as she did decades ago, I can begin to understand why: Moving from a place where young families worked as a team to raise children on the ice rink and at the swimming pool on the edge of a fantastically cultured and bilingual city, the bar was set high for another neighborhood like Westmount.
But there are so many who love St. Louis – from the coworker who passed along a list filled with exclamation marks about the bars, restaurants and neighborhoods in her beloved hometown, to the businesses owners of tee-shirt company STL-Style, who I recently read about in Peter Kageyama’s book For the Love of Cities. There are countless young Cardinals fans in 2011 World Series gear who will grow up with memories of a winning team and a love for St. Louis. My mother and I met in St. Louis this weekend to learn more about the place that those people know and love, not solely for a stroll down memory lane.
Sometimes we return to a place we once lived crossing our fingers that we’ll find it exactly as we left it. Sometimes we hope our old hometowns will become the setting for new experiences entirely that will allow us to form fresh memories, challenge outdated perceptions, and push us to rethink old conclusions.
You can always go home again. Even if, for worse or for better, home looks nothing like you left it.