Louisville Is No Longer A Town To Get Out Of
When I was growing up, Louisville was sort of a means to an end. For the privileged kids, once you graduated high school you were, without question, destined to go on to bigger and better things, far away from Louisville, Kentucky. At graduation the number one question I was asked was “where are you going to college?” When I answered, “York University in Toronto,” I was greeted with warm smiles filled with satisfaction. I guess Canada was far enough away from the bluegrass state to make myself look accomplished. The bizarre thing about my ability to impress folks by saying I attended school in another country, was that I wasn’t even majoring in a highly impressive subject; I was going to theatre school. At the time I was ecstatic because “I knew” that I would become an actor and York University was the place that would set me on my journey. After a year of acting school in Ontario, I did learn something valuable, that maybe a BFA wasn’t the best choice in a degree for me. After many months of weighing the pros and cons I decided to come closer to home for school, but not too close. I had been subconsciously conditioned my entire life that it was just plain unacceptable to go to college at the University of Louisville, so I transferred to Indiana University, about an hour away from home. I had all sorts of ideas about a new major and a new start to my college career, but after only one semester, I folded. With my head hanging low, and feeling awful as ever, I did what I never thought I would do in my entire life and registered for classes at UofL for the Spring semester. Four years later and one year later than my original college graduation date should have been, I graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in Psychology and I never looked back.
Why do I tell you my shameful college story? Because things are different now. Looking back on the way I felt about leaving Louisville and staying away from the city I love so much today is just a reminder of how far Louisville has come in just a matter of a few years. Louisville was recently named the 2012 best city at luring and retaining educated young people according to a report by two Portland State University Professors. Yes, I said retaining, not pushing them away. Portland, Oregon used to be the number one hot spot for college graduates to settle, but Louisville has taken that title away. I can personally attest to this transformation in Louisville’s attractiveness to the college educated, 20-something to 30-something crowd. Over the past several months I have been running in to more and more of my friends from the past who moved away only to come back to Louisville. Some have opened their own businesses here in town, are running small recording studios, or are coming back to work for a family business because they missed the city. Other friends who never left are making names for themselves opening restaurants and bakeries, coaching high school sports, and creating some of the town’s greatest original festivals. We can probably attribute the growing attractiveness of the city to this age group on the ongoing revitalization of historic neighborhoods like Nulu, the amazing new restaurants and bars that keep popping up, and the affordability of living. Louisville is no longer the city you want to get away from after high school, it is the city you can’t wait to make a name for yourself in. I love Louisville, I am not afraid to say it, and I’m not going anywhere.