Moving from one place or culture to another can be a difficult transition: we are away from the family and friends who have always known us, everyday tasks can become our biggest challenges and it can be hard to find anything that feels comfortable or familiar. In this process, though, growth and vibrant life can also be found: we love and are loved by new friends, we are shaped by other perspectives and we understand there are depths to ourselves we could not otherwise have known.
Here, Claire Moore who has made her home in Southeast Missouri from St. Louis, shares about her native culture, her new culture and what she’s learned in the transition. Here’s to letting life be a process and all the things we learn along the way.
Hometown: Brentwood, Missouri, in St. Louis, a smaller suburb approximately 15 minutes from downtown STL
Moved to Cape Girardeau in 2016 to work as a speech language pathologist
What is something that surprised you about the new culture you are a part of?
I am originally from St. Louis. I grew up in Brentwood, which is a smaller suburb about 15 minutes from downtown. My siblings and I actually spent the majority of our childhood in the same house my father grew up in. It’s neat to think about how the trees in our side yard are the same ones my grandparents planted so long ago. I loved growing up in an older neighborhood and thinking about all of the history around me.
Being from St. Louis, I assumed every city in the Midwest had the same garden variety of friendly and welcoming people. When I first moved to Cape, however, I found people right away who took it to another level. I accidentally ran into someone’s cart at Schnucks, and she giggled, saying “Hey, our carts just wanted a dance!” and asked me how my day was going. I adventured down to the riverfront, and a man I’d never met before taught me some Tai Chi moves. I found myself in a Rhodes gas station drive-thru for the first time, and I was simply dumbfounded when the smiling cashier handed me a 32-ounce lemonade right through the window. I took a jog on the Cape La Croix trail and received a wave from almost every passerby. Only one week in, and I was pleasantly surprised at just how much Cape had started to feel like home. The people were just so down-to-earth and easy to get along with. No one seemed to be in a rush or acted like you were wasting their time, something I have tried to adapt in my own life now, too.
What is something you miss or are proud of about your native culture?
I haven’t lived in St. Louis for 10 years, so what I associate with my home “native culture” is mainly adventures from my childhood. WIth any place we grow up in, there is going to be that element of nostalgia. When I go back home these days, that is all I can seem to do: reminisce about going to Cardinals’ games at the old Busch Stadium, taking the elevator up to the top of the Arch, driving by the Clydesdales at Grant’s Farm, running around the Zoo and the Science Center, seeing summer musicals at the Muny, ice skating at Steinberg Rink, sledding down Art Hill in Forest Park and climbing around the City Museum … those places and experiences are what I miss most. Without them, I am not sure if the city would feel the same. The culture of St. Louis is tied so closely with its traditions, ones that have been passed down from generation to generation. Although the hustle and bustle of city life may not be for me, I still love and respect the history of those traditions and hope to continue to pass them along to my family someday.
What is a challenge of moving to a new culture? What is a joy of moving to a new culture?
A challenge of moving to a new culture is not having 100% of the blueprint when you show up. You are essentially planting yourself down in an area that has its own set of unwritten traditions, rules and expectations that you have no choice but to discover over time. Sometimes, it may align with your past experiences and values; sometimes, it won’t. Those growing pains are what make the adjustment difficult for many. What helped me adapt during those seasons was meditating on how everything happens for a reason. Of all the jobs I had applied to all over the United States, the only one that had any traction was based in Cape Girardeau. On some level, I knew there was a reason I was plopped here, and over time, that has become more and more clear. My ideals and values were all given a chance to flourish here, including my love for the outdoors, for open land, for hiking, for a strong faith community, for close-knit connections, for love and service to your neighbor. Although I treasure my hometown and my loved ones there dearly, it was here where I was given room to stretch out and become my own person. That has been the joy of moving somewhere new — realizing that you can find a home for yourself just about anywhere if you are willing to let yourself grow from the experience. I guess the old adage “Bloom where you’re planted” has some truth to it, then.
How do you incorporate elements of your native culture into your new culture?
Incorporating tradition into our lives and our greater communities is what builds a culture, in my opinion. When children grow up, they are going to remember the experiences that made them laugh, smile and have the time of their lives. When the adults of the community are involved, they, too, are connecting with others, forming closer bonds and ultimately creating a safe, trusted place to live. Luckily, I feel like I have found exactly that here in Cape. I see the SEMO District Fair, the Shipyard Music Festival, the Christmas Festival of Lights and the Riverfront Market all as experiences that could last for generations, some of which already have. I love that I have been able to see this city grow more and more over the past three years. I also love that there are people in this area that are firmly dedicated to seeing Cape continue to grow from here on out. By living here and participating in the events that are organized, I see myself bringing that element of tradition that I grew up with to this community, as well.