Prior to December 23rd, 2014, I’m not sure I’d ever stepped foot in Missouri before. Yet, on that day, Bekah and I arrived in Springfield with the intention of finding a place to live.
At the time, we were living in Glendale, California in an apartment I’d had for the past few years prior. While there was once a time when I took full advantage of living in Los Angeles — working as an extra and frequently visiting unique venues like the UCB Theatre — I was now working at home while Bekah worked at a small, upstart bakery that didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. That latter point became more evident as her hours at work continued to be shifted at random and occasionally cut. In other words, not only were we paying a hefty premium to live in L.A. (when I could really be working from anywhere) but were now also getting squeezed by uncertainty. Eventually, I realized that, without a whole hell of a lot of savings to our name, we were only a few missteps from disaster. The solution? Perhaps we should consider a move.
I don’t recall what exactly got me thinking about places where rent would be cheap. Nevertheless, when I saw a story online about a family in Branson, Missouri that donated a car to their favorite Cracker Barrel waitress, I thought perhaps that familiar-sounding city would have laughably low cost of living. Well, after running a search, it turns out I was right. In fact, one of the first apartments that came up had an infinity pool, free HBO, and included WiFi — all for less than $600 a month. Yet, at this point, we weren’t seriously considering moving to the middle of the country.
A few weeks later, I decided to revisit the idea of moving out of California, when I came across a site that would apparently provide customized moving recommendations. After answering some questions about what we wanted in a city, it offered a dozen or so suggestions. Many of these were in what we called “veto” states, either because they were too far north and, thus, too cold or because they were too far south and, thus, too humid (not to mention southern). Meanwhile, although Missouri is surrounded almost exclusively by veto states, I realized I had no real objections to the Show-Me State itself. As fate would have it, Springfield managed its way onto our suggestion list. Incidentally, the blurb on the site also mentioned that it was only a short drive from the aforementioned Branson.
With our interest piqued, we then headed to every official Springfield site we could find while also looking them up on YouTube. At each turn, we were excited by what we found. In particular, there was one video we found that seemingly stole our list of notes for what we were looking for and addressed them head-on.
Needless to say, at this point, we were sold. After looking at a few potential apartments online, we called and made an appointment with one of them. Then, utilizing the few days off we had before Christmas, we drove straight through from Glendale to Springfield, Missouri (a 24-hour drive, in case you were curious). Once here, we ended up signing a lease, heading home, and packing up to move here one month later.
All of that was now six years ago. In that time, we’ve had the privilege of getting to explore more of Springfield and see what truly makes it special. At the top of that list is the community, which has a level of pride for this city that I’ve never seen before. Sure, this love comes with some self-depreciation at times, but what other place has an unofficial flag that’s embraced by small businesses, creatives, and other citizens who want to shine a light on their hometown? For that matter, what other non-major market city has its own syndicated late-night talk show, podcast dedicated to discussing local restaurants, or a lively local subreddit?
I’ll admit that, when I first moved here, I was shy about sharing our Springfield life. When asked where I was from, I’d say Missouri — but quickly explain how we had just moved from California (this was basically the equivalent of Britta injecting “I lived in New York” into every possible conversation on Community). However, I’ve long since stopped this practice and am now all too happy to tell everyone about why we live in Springfield and why they probably should too.
On that note, while it’s hard to call the past year a blessing, the lack of travel has allowed us to take an even closer look at our adopted home city. In turn, we’ve been inspired to start sharing our discoveries. Even though we’ve now lived here for six years, it still feels like we’re newbies, visiting many popular spots for the very first time. With that, going forward, Explore the ‘Verse will be exploring Springfield.
While these upcoming posts won’t be reviews per se, the hope is that we can share what we like about the various coffee shops, restaurants, farmer’s markets, parks, trails, and whatever else we have the chance to experience. Of course, once travel does resume, we will be sharing our global adventures again as well. Basically, when we say Explore the ‘Verse, we mean from your backyard all the way to the other side of the world.
So thank you for joining us on this journey — and thank you Springfield for being a great home to us.