I believe in St. Louis, Missouri. This has nothing to do with the fact that the city is home to the United State’s tallest monument, or the birthplace of 7-Up soda. And quite frankly, I couldn’t care less about how the Cardinals do in the World Series. All I know is that St. Louis is my hometown. Although I have lived in Piedmont for the majority of my life, I value where I come from. I believe that who we are as people, our personalities, our stories, are largely influenced by where we originate.
I remember my first years on Donny. We lived in a big, red brick house, with a small scruffy lawn out front, and a bigger one in back. From the eyes of a three year old, that lawn was massive. Its sprawling green stretch was my domain, where my sister and I would play for hours. I remember the creaky white swing set, and how my father would push us. He would switch off, one big push for my sister, and then one big push for me. I would lift my legs up in the air as I shot forwards. I remember thinking that if I went high enough, maybe I could fly away.
My grandmother would always make me white bread sandwiches, with a bowl of potato chips and a glass of clear raspberry soda. That soda was my favorite, and I remember always having to beg for more. There was always a small, round, green tin, full of cookies. Gingersnaps were my grandpa’s favorite, and mine as well. We would sit at the kitchen table, the dog’s head in my lap, and share the cookies over two glasses of milk.
My grandfather taught me to play catch, and how to drive the giant lawn mower, and how to decorate the basement wall with different colored spray paint. All sorts of random things that fascinated me. My grandma taught me how to sew, how to paint, how to draw and how to laugh. And still, every time I visit, I learn something new. I believe that growing up with these people, people who love and teach me, shaped me as a person.
Occasionally, the suggestion of a St. Louis visit is met with groans from my immediate family, and myself. How will we split the time between the relatives, my mother’s and my father’s? And how many cheek pinches from the elderly can I stand, at the mature age of seventeen? These aspects aside, I am always happy to return. I look forward to suburbia sometimes, swimming in pools, laying under an umbrella, sipping cool lemonade, all to beat the humidity. And to toasted ravioli and St. Louis style pizza, foods you can’t get anywhere else. And although family reunions sometimes drag on a bit too long, I enjoy spending time with my relatives, reliving memories and creating new ones. I believe that it is important to recognize how we become who we are, and how where we come from molds us. Although my current address does not read St. Louis, Missouri, I will always see it as the place that makes me who I am today.
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