This World On You Depends

“If you give this man a ride, sweet memory will die.”

– Riders on the Storm, The Doors

One night when I was fifteen or sixteen, Rachael had come over to hang out at my house and my mom let me drive her home. I had my driver’s permit, so the three of us piled into the old Honda and headed towards Kirkwood.

It was a beautiful spring night, so we had the sunroof and all of the windows open. I was wearing flip flops, so I was practically barefoot, just the way I like it. This was the year I discovered the “Dead at 27” club, so we were grooving to The Doors. I was driving down West Adams, which is this long windy road that goes through the woods alongside a big creek – about as close to country driving as you can get in the county.

Everything was so perfect and relaxing and – as I thought in my adolescent mind – cool. And I remember thinking, “When I get my license, I want to do this ALL THE TIME. This is AWESOME.”

Rachael lived very close to where I live now, and we used to ride our bikes past this building all the time. There were always people barbecuing and hanging out on the porches. When I was little, I thought all these swinging college kids and young adults lived there and they had parties every day and it must be the raddest place ever.

Tonight I was driving home from the hospital in my Honda. It was a gorgeous breezy spring day. I kicked off my heels and drove barefoot with the sunroof open. “Riders On The Storm” started playing on the radio. I drove down West Adams with the wind blowing and Jim Morrison crooning, towards that building that used to fascinate me so much.

And it hit me – I was doing exactly what I wanted to do, at least for a while when I was younger. I take that road home every single day. I live in the building that I thought was so glamourous and cool. Sure, most days aren’t that pretty. My neighbors are older and give me cookies instead of margaritas. I don’t actively listen to The Doors. But tonight – tonight it was perfect.

I used to have this boyfriend who always told me that I would never be happy if I stayed in St. Louis. He told me that my dreams would come true somewhere else, and he was so worried about what would happen if I never left. He used to rip on my city (and the Midwest, and so many places he had never even seen) so much, and at the time I hadn’t explored my home enough to show him why it was so perfect in spite of its faults. I thought he would rescue me from whatever he was so afraid of. When you’re in love, you believe they know what’s best for you without question.

Which is better: having big dreams and lofty goals that you will never achieve, or simple dreams and small wishes that one day come true? I suppose it could be argued either way.

But every day… every single day for the last two years, I live out at least some version of that childhood fantasy that I had forgotten about until just now. I think that’s pretty remarkable, and I’m a bit overwhelmed by how lucky I feel to be exactly where I am.


Filed under Favorite Stories, Love Stinks

6 responses to “This World On You Depends

  1. Charles

    A lot of people have told me to move out of the Midwest too, or at least up to Chicago, telling me that I’d be far happier and successful.

    Also, people have told me that it’s important to live far away from where you were born and raised, and that staying were you came from is tantamount to stagnation.

    I say that there are so many people and little groups and cultures in any area in America that you can stay in the same place your whole life and still always be having new discoveries, be meeting new people, and live a full and interesting life.

    Also, I don’t like the idea of moving somewhere to become better than I am. I think it is far better to stay where you are and make that place better.

  2. Well, I understand the absolute importance of travel… and truthfully, I think everyone should spend at least a semester or something living far away. You learn the most about yourself when you’re put in an unfamiliar environment. Plus, how will you know how much you love your city unless you compare it to other places?

    But as far as moving permanently, no, I don’t think it’s a necessity. You are right; everything about my life in St. Louis – from the people I hang out with to the places I go to the things I think and do – is completely different than it was last year, and the year before and so on. But because I’m in the same place, I still have access to all those people and places that I love. It doesn’t just change, it grows. I think that’s wonderful.

    Plus, I think he was just insistent that I move because of the Red State Prejudice that was so popular during the Bush Administration. He and his family/friends used to talk so disparigingly about the Midwest and South, whether they had been there or not. I think people on the East and West coasts forget that there are actual large cities in the Midwest and it isn’t just hicks. Sometimes I just wanted to grab him and say, “Bitch, you live on a mountain! My town is three times the size of yours!”

    For example, people in Chicago might make fun of other parts of Illinois (and I won’t say I haven’t, either), but they still have to hear a lot of cracks about the Midwest from the media. It’s annoying from both angles. At any rate, I think it had less to do with moving to grow and more to do with some sort of condescending “My Fair Lady” makeover.

  3. kevvers

    i luv the movie “Its a wonderful life” for all the themes you’ve brought up here. I do love travel and I got the itch to get going again, but there is this huge downside of being on the move. Often I feel I move right at the moment I feel fully engaged in a community, and then when I arrive at a new place it takes me so long to reengage with that new community.

  4. Allison

    Dude, Jack Donaghy totally stole your idea. Did you see last nights 30 Rock?

    In all seriousness though, this was a lovely post. Honestly, I just enjoyed reading it so much. Hard to explain, I just did.

  5. Thanks guys!

    Yeah, Jeff and I are obsessed with the concept of #3ing out of pure joy and we were so psyched that Jack is on board. We were so psyched, in fact, that we #3ed. Thank god neither of us lizzed.

  6. Pingback: Five by Five | Secretly Stephie

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