The travelers have returned! After eight days spent revisiting our past and the open road, we are back home. To say that this trip was a perspective-changer is an understatement. This whole summer, actually.
In San Diego I got a taste for what it's like to be an empty-nester, which took me a step closer to peace in terms of my decision regarding another child. As in, there won't be one.
St. Louis came with its own set of insights. Although I'm glad to have experienced New England living, I'm ready to move on. To begin the next chapter of my life. We know we will be moving in about two years, but where has been the bigger issue. Do we move wherever a grad school accepts me or move to a place we really want to live that also happens to have a grad school?
With all these questions looming and my senior year quickly approaching, it was nice to go back to what is friendly and familiar. We experienced a lot of milestones and firsts in the years we lived in St. Louis. Jared started school. We bought our first house. We officially became a family when Mario and I got married and he legally adopted Jared. Some of our best friends remain there. So do a lot of our memories.
We made the most of our few short days there by visiting all of our favorite places and people. I've already covered the City Museum, but here are some other highlights from our trip:
The Soulard Farmer's Market:
|Jared with one of the market's musicians at age 6 . . .|
|. . . and he's right where we left him six years later.|
|I'm not a big Bloody Mary fan, but this was delish.|
We loved nothing more than to drive into the city on a Saturday morning and eat/shop our way through this St. Louis landmark. I love the hustle and bustle of it all, and the cornucopia of colors and delicious smells.
|A snow cone as big as his head. He couldn't keep up, so the juices would drip out. People would look around wondering what had splattered on their feet.|
Trailhead Brewing Company:
|There is a brewery in our current area, and we call it "Trailhead." Despite eating there many times, we can't ever remember its real name.|
While waiting to get Mario's favorite portobello mushroom strips to take home to him, I indulged in a delicious blonde ale they have. The food ended up taking sooo long and the bartender felt guilty, so I got a second half pint glass on the house. If the food hadn't come when it did, I may have been forced to walk the food back. I don't drink much.
|The fact that it was called "Mario's" wasn't lost on us.|
Fresh, handmade, mom-and-pop doughnut shops are pretty scarce in New England. I'm not talking about Dunkin' Donuts, folks. This is not the case in the Midwest. When our usual place up the street was closed, another was just a stone's throw away. And you can get a gyro with your doughnut. Shazam.
It's amazing how little things have changed since we've been gone . . . it felt like we'd never left. Life just kept on living without us. Sure, there are a few new buildings. Or a few less in the case of our old neighborhood. But we slipped right into old friendships and I was able to navigate the city, for the most part, as if I'd still been driving those streets over the last five years.
|Our apartment was the second floor of this building when we first moved to historic St. Charles, MO (J at age 5) . . .|
|. . . and as it is now. It was the coolest place. J at age 12.|
|Living on a historic main street was an amazing experience. I'm so glad Jared has those memories.|
I miss it. But not because I love the city itself necessarily. There are other cities I like more. I love the people, the city life, and the opportunities. I will never be this far from civilization again . . . this city girl gets too twitchy.
On the drive home, I realized something: I don't hate where we live now. It's beautiful and I love our house. Keene, New Hampshire will be the town where I graduated from college, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. But as graduation nears and I think about what's next, I realize that it has nothing left to offer me. I know I have to move to finish my education. Mario cannot advance his career from here. So although I like the place itself, I resent that living here could hold me back from my dreams. It won't, ultimately, but I'm an impatient person, eager to explore the next chapter. And because I know for sure it's not here, I'm having trouble living in the now.
Being back in St. Louis for the first time as a family since we left (I've made a few solo trips over the last few years), I did have a mini epiphany: I can live anywhere. As long as I can achieve my goals, Mario can achieve his, Jared has the opportunities he needs to learn and grow, and we are all healthy and happy; I don't care where we are. That has been a very liberating idea. I can apply to P.A. schools anywhere. I don't have to find my forever home and a school that will take me in one fell swoop! Our adventures are just beginning . . .
|Us then (2005) . . .|
|. . . and now.|