The Midwest — Home Sweet Home
Growing up in the St. Louis area and attending college not too far away in Columbia, the Midwest was “home” for me. But it wasn’t until years after moving away that it became “home sweet home.”
There are usually two types of people that live in the Midwest — ones that absolutely love it and can’t see themselves living anywhere else. And then there are the ones who hate it and swear they’ll leave and never look back the first chance they get. I was the latter.
But after moving away from home in my early 20s — first temporarily to Fort Lee, VA for a 4-month military training and then to Seattle, WA in 2020 (just because I wanted to escape to the West Coast) — I finally have a better appreciation for the Midwest. To be more specific, I was born in St. Louis and then raised in what was back then a quaint little town surrounded by cornfields called Edwardsville, IL. It has since blossomed into a booming suburb.
For my parents, it was an ideal and safe place to raise a family, which meant for myself as a teenager it was boring as hell.
Fast forward to 2015, I moved to Columbia, MO (aka COMO), just an hour and a half away, to attend Columbia College — the best private school in a super cute but totally wild party town — as well as Mizzou and Stephens College Yes, I attended all three schools in town, and not because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but more because I thoroughly enjoyed school and wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities I could get.
CC was my school full-time with smaller classes that allowed for developing closer relationships with your professors and be involved in a lot of different groups — shout-out to the best Communication and English departments that literally became my family; Mizzou was where I took my Army ROTC classes (lots of horrid memories there lol, but that’s a story for another time) and played violin in the University Philharmonic Orchestra; and Stephen’s was where I dabbled in film classes back when my dream was to be a screenwriter and director before horribly bombing my interview with the UCLA Film Directing Graduate Program.
Looking back on it all, I had a hell of a time. I just didn’t see myself living there after college and finding a job that was actually interesting.
But enough backstory on my college years…
Despite how lifeless St. Louis can seem compared to other cities, it actually has some pretty cool neighborhoods and things to do if you know the right places to go.
Since moving to Seattle, one of my first trips back home was on a little “book tour” where my family and I went around to about 20 different incredible bookstores and sold my fiction novel — and I’ll definitely have to post a separate blog on this because there are some little-known bookstores you just have to visit in St. Louis that I went my entire life not knowing about until coming back.
During that trip, I had a book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Fenton and it was also the first time I had taken my boyfriend back home with me. Because my boyfriend had never been to St. Louis before, this forced me to put aside my distaste towards the place I grew up (and swore I’d never come back to) and do all the touristy things you can do in three days.
From attending a Blues hockey game to downing the absolute freshest beer on a beer tour at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, eating Imo’s pizza and exploring the beautiful Forest Park, we actually had a ton of fun!
On another hand, I knew I missed my college town of Columbia, MO the moment I moved out to Seattle, WA. Don’t get me wrong, the PNW has its perks, but finding quaint little coffee shops you can walk to without worrying about crime or paying $8 for a latte is near impossible out in this bustling West Coast city.
And I’m totally not saying I would ever want to move back to COMO just for a cozy coffee shop or an affordable, crime-free (sort of) downtown, but I definitely get nostalgic thinking about all the many restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops that my friends and I enjoyed quite thoroughly on the daily basis.
Oh yeah, and I just recently moved back to the Midwest in September 2022! Not by choice exactly…my boyfriend just landed a new job that has brought us to Chicago, IL, which I’m so excited to explore more of.
But enough said — hop in and enjoy the blog to discover my favorite places in the Midwest!
My boyfriend Aidan and I at a St. Louis Blues hockey game