Schlafly’s Tap Room was a pleasant little sports bar in downtown Saint Louis which, in lieu of the usual generic national brand, was serving the locally brewed delicacy: Schlafly beer, it’s own namesake. It appeared a bit funny to me that they would be doing that in Saint Louis, home of the Anheuser-Busch corporation, makers of Budweiser. It goes without saying that Schlafly was superior to its big-time competition, and so Christi and me sampled several different flavors before settling on Dry Hopped APA. We had arrived at the tail end of a Blues game, and I was a little bit disappointed that I missed the team at the top of the NHL standings. Still, Schlafly’s Tap Room was the first bar I’ve been to where I could hear myself think and where I wasn’t constantly fighting the crowd. The crowd was small, but Christi said it was very large compared to the last time she was there.
Our conversation took us from sampling beers with a man from South Africa to family business to what our concept of home was. That last one was of particular interest to Christi, a Chicago native who spent two years in Nashville before moving back to Chicago and ultimately moving to Saint Louis with Kevin. She wondered what my concept of home is, since I consider my adopted city of Chicago every bit a home as Buffalo, even though I spent only half a decade there as opposed to the 25 years I’ve now lived in The Nickel City. My answer was a short and concise one: To me, home was where I went though my greatest developments as a human being. Christi understood, and said that in that sense, she didn’t develop very much during her time in Nashville.
Most of my closest relationships still remain in Buffalo, and so Buffalo will always be my home. But my years in Buffalo also included my nightmarish experience in junior high school, something that stuck with me to such an extent that for years afterward, I still chased off and avoided a lot of potentially close, far-reaching friendships. It forced me into seclusion. In Chicago, I had no choice but to force myself into the functioning world. While my friends today know I can be very awkward at times, they’re still my friends, and many of them would be amazed to know I was once a lot worse. My distrust of humanity still shows up every now and then, but for the most part my assimilation into the rest of the working world was very successful. I have my years in Chicago to thank for that, and so I still consider Chicago a home.