“Place” is a tricky topic for a military kid. As a child and then wife of the military, I have spent my entire life moving around: from Arkansas to Greece to Texas to Germany. Then Mississippi, Illinois, North Carolina, California… You get the idea. Because of this somewhat nomadic lifestyle, I quickly learned to make new friends, and I quickly became accustomed to saying goodbye. So, last year when my husband and I decided to move from St. Louis to Denver for him to attend medical school, it didn’t seem all that out of the ordinary. Moving was always pretty easy for me; it was just part of life.
So, then, why was it so hard? I think the answer is “because I had found a home.”
This home is not a building nor a location, but a very connected group of people – and a shared set of ideas. This home is made up of my fellow St. Louis improvisers.
St. Louis is the place I first took an improv class. From that very first day, I knew I had encountered something special. Here was a group of people who embraced life, play and, most importantly, each other. I knew I was home immediately. Since that day in 2010, improv has been a huge part of my life. It has improved my ability and increased my desire to work on teams, be completely myself, care for others, listen and say “yes” to new opportunities. In The Improv Shop’s training program, I learned to listen and appreciate everything that comes out of my scene partners’ mouths. I learned that there are no mistakes – even from myself. I learned that being myself and bringing my perspective makes for great scenes and great friendships. I learned that I am not the only one (far from it) with insecurities, with differences, with worries and with fears. The Improv Shop’s coaches, students and veterans taught me that failing is a crucial part of success, so it should be done magnificently. That flaws are not flaws at all but idiosyncrasies that make us unique and perfect versions of ourselves. That we all have compassion, intelligence, moments of pride and confidence or worry and confusion… so many commonalities that it’s crazy not to think of ourselves as one. The Improv Shop taught me all of these lessons, and enabled me to learn them alongside others, which is the best way to do it. When we failed, we failed together, and when we succeeded, it wasn’t because of one person but our cohesive group, our teamwork, our trust.
All my life, people would ask me “Where are you from?” and I would chuckle and explain that I don’t really have a “from.” I was born in Arkansas but moved when I was about six months old. Until high school, the longest I had ever lived in one place was four years. St. Louis is home. The Improv Shop is home. That community – built by us one class, one show, one venue at a time, is home.
As a military dependent almost all my life, I have learned that home really is where the heart is. I have also learned that a home is not something you leave behind in a moving truck; it’s a compilation of memories and life lessons that you can take with you anywhere, building on it as you acquire new homes. Let’s see what you’ve got, Denver.