Thursday, July 10, 2008

What High School did you go to?

I am a first-time blogger and when Y? asked me to write about life after college from the point of a Jew from St. Louis, born and raised, who has returned to St. Louis I figured it was going to be a breeze. I mean that is my life in a nutshell. I have struggled with writing this for fear that people probably don't care what I have to say regarding St. Louis and have probably already formed their own opinions on being in St. Louis after college.
Most of my high school friends, Jewish or not, and almost every one of my college friends lives somewhere other than St. Louis. I have best friends in New York, Chicago, San Diego, Pensacola, Los Angeles, and the list goes on.

So here is what I can tell you…coming back to St. Louis and finding my niche has been a struggle at times. I am the fourth generation of St. Louisans in my family and it's all I know. We are the kind of people who think that Imo's might just be the world's best pizza, the letter 'R' can be found in words like water and wash, and the kind of people who believe that when you turn your ice cream completely upside down it should not fall out of the cup or else it's free. Imo's and Ted Drewes aside, St. Louis is not the familiar place it once was when I was a youngster.
If that came out sounding negative, it certainly was not meant to sound that way. The majority of my current St. Louis friends, especially the Jewish ones, are not from here. Whether it's west coast or east, or a fellow Midwesterner from out-of-state, these friends are the ones showing me all that St. Louis has to offer. Everything I once thought I knew about St. Louis has been improved upon tremendously since returning home. I have always enjoyed the Muny, however a show at the Muny with my group of Jewish friends in the free seats on opening night is a wonderful occasion and new experience for me. I have always known about Forest Park, but live concerts on Tuesdays outside the History Museum and on Wednesdays at the Botanical Gardens fit in this same category as they are things I was not so familiar with growing up. We have really uncovered and discovered some of the finer things St. Louis has to offer.

One thing I noticed that has remained the same is St. Louis' most frequently asked question: "What high school did you go to?" It is grammatically incorrect, like warter and warsh but we always let it slide. It's just how you say it. What we really mean to ask is, where in St. Louis did you grow up and what do your parents do? Do you have more furniture on your lawn or in your house? Do you have all of your teeth or just some? It's a pretty ridiculous question but we cannot stray from asking it, regardless of how inaccurate it may be. I have even noticed my aforementioned friends who are not from St. Louis have begun to ask this same question when they meet someone from St. Louis. I suppose they think it helps them grasp onto some idea about the person with whom they are speaking. I guess what I mean to say is that I don't think it's a good judge of anything. Using myself as an example, I went to a high school in a very affluent part of St. Louis. When I say where that is I always get the same response. However, I don't think I fit any description of the type of person being imagined when I speak the name of my high school. I don't think I fit that mold one bit. Nonetheless, it is inescapable. It is just as certain as the fact that my concrete will not fall out of my cup when the Ted Drewes employee turns my order completely upside down. And for this reason alone, I'll take it. To my new St. Louis friends: Thank you for showing me a St. Louis I have never seen and providing me with a very accepting, informal Jewish experience that I would not trade for the world. To my many original St. Louis friends who will never consider a return to the river city: You are truly missing out on what we are doing.

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