When I first got to know Adam Lough, he was bartending at Brennan's, and I was spending enough time there that I thought I was friends with the bartenders. It was a depressing time in my life. I'd landed in the Midwest after nearly six years in Arizona, and not only was I blue over the breakup with my Phoenix boyfriend, I was lonely. And don't even get me started on winter; turns out six years in Arizona will destroy your tolerance for gray days and ice storms. Brennan's — and booze — were a respite.
But Adam, too, seemed a bit depressed. And that's why I was so surprised when I ran into him a few months ago (at, yes, Brennan's) and he simply looked happy.
I was happy too. Since my days as a regular, I'd moved to Los Angeles and moved back, gotten married and had a baby. It took a ridiculous amount of chaos (two cross-country moves, three jobs, five domiciles), but I now appreciated that without a few big steps back, I could never have taken the most important steps forward.
Adam, too, had made some big changes. He explained that he'd become a hairdresser — and that he positively loved his work. He actually looked years younger, and I could have sworn I saw a literal spring in his step.
After our conversation, I found myself mulling just how much we fear change, even though it's often both necessary and good. I thought of the changes I've made, the changes I've resisted. And I contemplated the prayer I say daily, even as I still continue (sigh) to tipple at Brennan's: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."
In this special issue, we ended up talking to a number of St. Louis residents about the changes they've made — good, bad and sometimes difficult. We talked to Adam, and we also talked to a rock star who became a dad, an observer who became a leader, a funeral services director who started a restaurant group, a woman who moved to St. Louis from San Francisco even as she's nearing 70, a woman who answered a Craigslist ad and found the chance she longed for. We found much to learn, and we hope their stories will galvanize you to consider your own life. What things should you accept? And what things should you move mountains in order to shake up, right here, right now?— Sarah Fenske