Some thoughts occurred to me on the way to St. Louis earlier today that I must have mentioned “St. Louis” more times than I have mentioned the name of the city in which I have lived for the last one year. Here’s why: it’s the closest big city to Edwardsville, even though it is located in a neighbouring. The other big city around here is Chicago, and it is five hours away. I bet that people in Michigan find it easier to get to Chicago than we do in the south of the state. The city of St. Louis is just twenty to thirty minutes away, just by the bank of the Mississippi river, and it offers all that a big city offers.

It occured to me just today how similar to Chicago it actually is, in structures, atmosphere and general attitudes. It’s “South Side” is just as dangerous as the South Side of Chicago depending on the time of the day or night, and everyone had warned me to be careful wherever I went. Chicago, of course, has more museums and monuments, and taller buildings. While St. Louis has the Arch, Chicago has the Bean and many other attractions. And as a point of convergence, the Jazz artist Louis Armstrong has strong ties to both cities. In any case, the contiguity of St. Louis to much of where I live now has made it one city about which you’ll continue to hear so much for some time to come.

The trip to that big city today was uneventful today, contrary to expectations. Maybe it was because I got a GPS at last and had to endure a loud mysterious voice directing me to turn where necessary. I guess the only memorable part of the trip was when I finally got to my destination, and decided around the block that I wanted to buy some plantain chips to have for lunch, the lady at the desk of the African restaurant asked me if I was paying with food stamps or cheque. I knew what food stamps were, but I said I didn’t, and asked her to explain, because I had felt profiled by her assumption and didn’t like it. In retrospect, it was just a random welcome into a different kind of America and I should have embraced it as such. And I did, in the end.

How was your Monday?

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