Debbie Monterrey

On a rainy, gloomy Saturday morning, why was I hanging out of the Culinaria parking ramp taking a picture of the view down Olive Street? Because it made me smile. Because it inspired me, made me happy and lifted my black mood.

I’d spent the previous 45 minutes muttering under my breath, seething with anger and irritation over a race that seemed to have all of downtown blocked off as I was attempting to get my daughter to circus class on time. This caused me to take countless detours while running on empty (gas gauge literally said “RANGE: 0”).

I dropped my daughter off, gassed up, and headed to Culinaria to pick up a few things. And this was my view. It so turned my mood around I had to take a picture to remind me the next time I got annoyed.

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It’s hard for me to feel emotional attachments to suburban strip malls and complexes. They serve their purpose, don’t get me wrong. They are important to people, but for me, there’s nothing like City establishments that are full of character, charm, history and always, amazing architecture. Great bones.

I dropped my daughter off at her class at City Museum (and what’s not to love about THAT crazy playground in an old shoe factory?) and headed for Culinaria. I cannot thank Schnucks enough for believing in downtown and putting in that great grocery despite naysayers who said it would never work. I popped into Left Bank Books, then drove down Locust. There was a big group of cyclists buzzing around Urban Shark bike shop. Rooster Cafe was packed (but if it hadn’t been raining, everyone would’ve been outside on the sidewalk), and drove toward Central Library.

I was heading back to City Museum to pick up my daughter, my mood the complete opposite of what it was when I’d dropped her off. I often find myself driving around the City with a big smile on my face, because I just love it. I love the energy, I rejoice each time I see a new business, restaurant or store front opening (and there is A LOT of new stuff!).

I realize City living isn’t for everyone, but the City-haters do irk me. I remember a caller to KMOX who said he’ll never come to the City because there are rolling gun battles downtown every day with people getting killed. Another said they would never feel safe with the roving gangs mugging people. Both statements are untrue and inaccurate. And having lived and worked in the City for a decade, I can say that’s not been my experience at all. But perception is reality and haters gonna hate!

Ultimately, you have to love where you live. It should inspire you and bring you joy. Vive St. Louis!


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