My college roommate was in town over the long weekend recently, and one of my top ten goals (these change often, but for now) in my life is to get her to move to St. Louis. So, before she arrived, another mutual friend and I were in heavy email and phone discussions about what activities and locales would constitute the perfect "Sold on St. Louis" weekend. (Yes, that's probably some cheesy Realtor's® slogan, but I have nothing, so please don't sue...)
Eventually, the short list included a handful of festivals (Greek Festival, Japanese Festival and myriad other options); more restaurants and bars than we could enjoy, given the number of available meal and drinking slots in a weekend; a roster of concerts, movies and theatre shows longer than my arm; attractions plans that would make the CVC envious; and so on.
Here's what we did: saw a couple of movies; dropped by the neighborhood coffee shop; browsed for yarn; got ourselves invited over for dinner at two different sets of friends, two nights in a row; sat outside and had a beer in the Central West End and dinner on South Grand (at two places that weren't even on our original list! People! This is not moving us down the checklist!); slept in late (just like college); talked politics and media (just like college); watched t.v.
And at the end of the trip, my friend said to us, "This is what I want to have in my life! Friends and a community I feel connected to and interesting things happening." Because everywhere we went we seemed to run into someone writers, neighbors, artists, rehabbers, business owners we know, she was convinced that we are St. Louis' Most Popular People. Though it's far from true, we do feel inextricably woven into our neighborhood, our area and our city.
She's seen the Arch, and Forest Park, and museums and of-the-moment restaurants. Those things are important, and give our town a face to project to the outside world. But I was reminded again that what we're all looking for, really, is a place to know and be known, a place we can make our own. St. Louis is as easy a place to do that as anywhere I've found. It's great to see those qualities as appreciated by an outsider as dinner at Tony's and a brewery tour would be.