You Get All Kinds
Where Was Lyle When I Needed Him?

Going Home (To One Of Them, Anyway)

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.

Comments

Marcus

We went back in Washington DC last weekend for a wedding. Although we only lived there two years, it was long enough to make an impression. I marveled again at the elegant layout of the city, and learned just how close Logan Circle is to Dupont Circle. We always knew much more about Dupont, since it's on the train line. Logan seemed far away, but it's just a few blocks down P St.

I had greater fondness for Washington than I anticipated. The experience was different when we went back to Chicago last year, which felt like an unknown place. Helen and I met in Chicagoland, and all told I spent about seven years there. But these were "young" years; college and immediately afterwards. I got my library degree in Chicago, but didn't have my first position until we moved to Washington.

So, for me, the Chicago years came too early. Although I fully admit my New York snobbishness these days, it was nice to discover that Washington has such a warm place in my heart.

MarkD

Damn, I forgot my password again and it has taken me days to find where I left it. Word to the wise, the ‘forgot your password’ feature on Typepad does not work – at least not for foreign emails.

I’ve lived many places in my lifetime, some places for only a few months, some for many years, some old some new, some hot some cold. In all that time and all those places I’ve learned that home is where you make it. Twenty-five years after I left university in Windsor, Ontario I still can vividly and fondly remember the smell of a steel mill. Even now, living in sub-tropical Sydney, I can feel the cold chill (to the bone) of a cold Canadian night.

I can picture my apartment in Brussels down to the tiniest detail, I remember many a drunken night a Rick’s American Café around the corner. I can remember the items in the window of the antique shop on Charles St. in Boston and the warm glow of the sunset on the beach in Delmar (San Diego). I remember the little curry shop down the street from my apartment in the East End of London – the food was bad but I was young and poor. Then there is Sydney (not my favorite city – by-the-way), the view of the harbor from my patio watching the sunrise over the North Head while drinking my morning coffee.

But in all those places and all this time, the places I hold most dear tend to be places where I have never lived. I am sorry, I admit it (you best sit down Marcus), I love LA. I love the climate. I love its setting. I love its rambling mix of suburban America and South American soul. It is difficult to get around, the ground shakes, there are periodic floods and fires, but it is all of these things that give it its charm. But it isn’t my only love, I love Montreal as well. The Quebecois know how to live. Montreal is all about enjoying life and overcoming life’s hardships (you try to live in that climate). It is a city full of intimate little restaurants and bars. It is a city that just pulses with a joy of life lived to the fullest (which for you workaholic Americans means putting the job and career second and making friends and family the center of your life). People in Montreal work to live and not the other way around.

And Marcus, as for New York, it is OK – but I find it a little parochial for my taste.

Marcus

Well, we don't want this to lapse into NYC vs. LA. I simply refer everyone to the scene in "Annie Hall" when Woody Allen is amazed that they actually have to walk a few steps after driving everywhere.

And, indeed, New York is quite parochial. But it's a particularly cosmpolitan provincialism that is easy to mock. So that's what I do, even knowing that I am guilty of it myself.

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