When fall comes, and the travel season heats up, it's hard to look forward very much because I'm so focused on the tasks immediately at hand. So while the St. Louis trip has been planned for months, it was only this morning that I woke up full of excitement that we are actually going to be there in just a few hours! I've been sitting here having a salami sandwich and glass of wine for lunch, browsing the Riverfront Times and the Post-Dispatch online, and looking up websites for clubs and bands and restaurants old and new.
Tomorrow we'll go to the Missouri Botanical Garden with Lonnie & Emily, and I plan to stop at the Venice Cafe to play a few songs with Ranger Dave. Kenny O is in town and will be sitting in on Tuesday night at the Broadway Oyster Bar. The chance to hear Kenny & Brian trade choruses is something worth travelling a good distance for.
It's been two years since the last visit that I made, and so the city will be even stranger and more distant. The town that I lived in for seven years is long gone -- I remember the trip back when I realized that for sure, and it was a relief that I didn't have to try to hang on to it anymore. Many of the people remain, but they're all a decade further into their lives as well. Some are gone and won't be seen again. One learns to embrace those aches.
Much of the best parts of my life happened in St. Louis. I was finally formed into the man that I am there, finally managed to find my way back into my own heart. Oddly enough, I never developed a real affection for the city as a whole -- not in the way that I feel about DC, or Chicago, or Birmingham. But the people and the individual places -- the clubs and restaurants and musicians and artists that I spent my time with... those are indelible parts of me, and getting ready to get on the plane to head back for a few days reminds me of how deeply intertwined a part of me they are.