I’ve always had a strange relationship with Missouri. Ballwin (a suburb of St. Louis) has always been home, but that was something I used to grudgingly admit. Leading up to college, the one thing I knew for certain was that I needed, wanted, just HAD to leave. There were stereotypes, associations, assumptions about my state and its people that I didn’t want following me around. I felt a twinge every time someone would respond with a surprised expression and an “Oh” when I told them where I was from. How was I supposed to respond? How was I supposed to defend my hometown, and was it even worth it?
When I first left for college, I didn’t look back. I didn’t think I was leaving anything special behind—but this year, things changed. At the end of second semester this year, it had officially been approximately 1.5 years since I had gone back to Missouri, and in that 1.5 years, I learned what it meant to have hometown pride. Maybe it was the result of a grueling academic course load or the so-called “sophomore slump,” but this year, for the first time, I was homesick. I missed my bed, my house, my neighborhood. I missed driving down familiar roads; I missed The Loop, Forest Park (both St. Louis gems), and downtown. And of course more than anything, I missed my family and friends, because calling and Face-timing just isn’t the same. As I realized just how much I wanted to go home, I learned just how much I loved home. The place that I was so determined to run away from was something that had defined me and my character. It was something that I could never leave behind; rather, it was something that I should embrace and proudly carry with me.
At the end of this year when I made plans to come home for a couple of weeks before returning to Baltimore for an internship, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Being here has been wonderful. I can’t describe how good it felt to see everything and everyone that had previously seemed so far away. I wish I could have stayed longer to sneak in more St. Louis specialties like a night at Shakespeare in the Park, a Cardinals game and of course some delicious food (T-ravs I’m looking at you). I especially wish I had more time to relax and catch up with friends and maybe even watch a Disney movie or ten.
I absolutely love Baltimore and the fact that it has become a home and I’m so excited for my internship with Health Leads this summer, but right now, I’m also loving the fact that I’m learning just how much home home means to me.