Today, St. Louis is a smudge of blue engulfed in the almost endless waves of red crashing over the midwest. It is the dangerously enticing whisper of cornfields on a perpetual wind which is only silenced by the sudden growth of dreary and nearly identical buildings, brightened with assaults of color strewn haphazardly across disapproving stone walls.
St. Louis is the cacophony of thundering feet on pavement, just about to spill out into the city with the stench of riot gear and hungry reporters hanging in the air and foreshadowing the flash flood. Sometimes, it is the oncoming storm fuelled by the rallying cry of a mother or daughter or father or son, pushing forward with a single voice of a thousand souls wronged one too many times. Other times, it is the showering of rainbows across city streets where, for the first time in a long time, I can hold the not quite shaking hands of my girlfriend with a tightening grip and upturned chin that shouts to the judging skyline: “try to take this away from me, I dare you”.
It is the unity of neighbors and the solidarity of strangers whenever the weathermen with weathered faces and overcast eyes cannot predict the violence of a storm— whether it be coming from the sky or from the city itself.
It is the silent language of barely tilted heads and the almost lifting of eyebrows between myself and a woman I have never met but trust wholeheartedly on the bus, in a dark parking lot, trekking down North Broadway— I am here, I will witness, we will be safe together.
This is the record scratch in the symphony of rural Missouri, whose red hat sings to a man spouting hate like a chord progression of animosity played on the broken strings of a fools-gold fiddle. I no longer listen to his outdated orchestra.
St. Louis is a city of almosts, a city of not quites, a city of just abouts. It is a city of raised fists and baby-faced warriors who march out of time to the drums of the older generation, who bang out a new beat to the sound of the city’s heartbeat beneath worn sneakers for this new generation of the unafraid and unwavering. Today, I do not stand by. Today, I have come to refuse be afraid of love, being afraid of the bus, being afraid of the old generation. Today, St. Louis is the gateway to change where the people scream their unrelenting message: we are here, we will witness, we will persist together.