By DAN BUFFA, We Are Live Radio columnist
There's really no place like home, ladies and gentlemen. The familiar saying carries weight all over the world, and it cuts deepest with where one calls home. That may not be where they live at the moment. Our apartment may just be a place for our stuff and to sleep. Our home may be a different place. Somewhere that takes a little effort getting back to.
On July 5th, I moved back to St. Louis with my son Vincent after spending nearly 19 months in Little Rock, Arkansas, a place worth waving off as you head down I-55 for Memphis. It wasn't an easy decision. There was an opportunity to kickstart a career back in The Lou while my wife finished up work down south. Any single parent can attest that the difficulty in charging after a dream job and taking care of a wildly energetic four year old is truly running with the wolves.
I was up for it for one simple reason. St. Louis is pretty awesome.
Sure, it's not for everybody and has turned into a violent inhabitant of hate during the past two years. The shooting death of Michael Brown sparked a deadly outburst in North City that hasn't lost a flame two years later. When you mention St. Louis these days, people try to look away or wonder what is going on there. They ask you why you stick around. I tell them it's not perfect. It's just home to me.
I grew up South City. Tholozan and Kingshighway. Right next to the Hill. I ran around those streets as a kid and run around them today as an adult catching his fitness fix. There's a familiarity that I look forward to when I drive down Chippewa and that includes all kinds of memories. The days of watching Jean Claude Van Damme in Nowhere to Run three times on a Saturday at the Avalon for a total of fifteen cents. The days of treating 7-11 like a pit stop during my adolescent years. Driving to the Esquire 8 for a flick with my dad and hoping they put the new release in the main auditorium, which was my cathedral to pray to the movie gods for a week spent in school.
There are so many things about this city that don't exist elsewhere for me. When you spend nearly two years away from your hometown, there is a re-connection that happens upon your return. It's like plugging your phone into the one outlet in the house that actually works. Here are a few of the things that I have done in the past five weeks since my return to St. Louis.
~Drink a cup of coffee at Shaw's Coffee. When I leave my radio show at seven in the morning, I drive over to Shaw and Marconi and get a real macchiato. Something Starbucks simply doesn't understand. You tell a "barista" at the Bux to make you a macchiato and fail to say caramel or latte in front of it and they look at you as if you mentioned quantum physics. The lady at Shaw's knows exactly what I want and throws four shots of espresso and some foam into a small cup. I nod to the table of old wise men and depart. That's my place. It's getting hit as hard as one can with espresso and getting a mood boost out of it.