My husband said to me once, "You'll never make it in this town." Normally he's a rather supportive guy, so this shocked and dismayed me. I'll admit it I pouted. "Why do you say that?" I'm quite sure I whined. "You're not from here," he pointed out, simply. Neither is he, I reminded him at the time, but it matters less. His business computer programming is far less about networking than mine: public relations and communications.
He's right, to a point, I think. It is certainly more of a struggle to make a connection with media and business contacts that were born, raised and high-schooled here when that question is raised so early in the relationship. I've clung to the fact that I at least attended college in Missouri, and in some cases that helps. It is not even as if I come from some great distance. I was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois, a state capitol, no less. In the Midwest, some people have even heard of it.
I have found that the very existence of the "club" created by these born and bred St. Louisans has created another club: the Secret Society of Those from Somewhere Else. An immediate bond is formed with those I meet in the media who hail from California, Idaho or Florida. Though we share nothing but a vocation in common, the fact that we are outsiders bonds us instantly. I tend to look out for the outsiders, giving an extra listen to vendors or salespeople who have relocated from Nebraska or Arizona, sympathetic to the fact that they'll never make it in this town.
See, the thing is, we never chose this place. We did choose to live in St. Charles, the place where my husband's parents live, for the sake of convenience when we were first married. The bedroom community of St. Charles is transitional in nature; we are surrounded with people who aren't from there and don't plan on staying. Let's face it: even Lewis and Clark were only passing through.
My husband completes his degree in a matter of months and has cast an eye toward relocating, most likely west of here, so enamored is he of the mountains. He was born in Texas, moved with mom and dad at the whim of the Air Force and ended up in St. Charles in the late seventies. He is no more Texan than I am New Yorker, although I am the first and only person through my generation of my family tree to be born outside the state of New York. He and I are Midwesterners seeking community, finding it only with those who are from somewhere else.
Realizing only this summer that this may be my last year in St. Louis, I am living it as such. I just took my daughter for an entire day at the Saint Louis Zoo, which I believe to be the finest zoo in the country. We will camp in the beautiful state parks of Missouri as much as possible. I will hang out and drink coffee in the Loop. I will visit the Art Museum, City Museum and History Museum, eat at as many St. Louis restaurants as I can afford, visit Ted Drewes, order Imo's and in fact, live life as a tourist, soaking up all I've taken for granted in the nearly thirteen years I've been a visitor. Although I am looking forward to what the future may bring, I do hope it's a long goodbye.