Love Letters: Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington, I've fallen hard for you. You've won me over and opened my eyes to the true beauty of small town hospitality and big city dreams. Because you give both.
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Though she feels most alive riding horseback in Mongolia, Megan Smith sees her cozy bungalow on the outskirts of downtown Lexington a close second. She is the founder, editor and publisher of CAKE&WHISKEY; the Sweet & Spirited World of Business magazine and Art of Homemaking, a lifestyle blog that draws in over 50,000 views monthly. When she's not baking a cake or sipping a dram of whiskey, you'll find her carpooling three boys around to soccer fields and tennis courts and ending the day with her husband, falling asleep to an episode of "Endeavour."

Dear Lexington,

It's said that "beauty always promises, but never gives anything." I beg to differ. Because you, my good-looking dear, with your ethereal horse farms and awakened city center have given much of yourself over the years.

We both know you were a bit coy at the beginning, keeping me, an outsider, at arm's length. But with every car ride through your breathtaking bluegrass hills and every evening walk down Main Street, we grew closer.

It's a shame you have the reputation for only being interested in basketball, horses and bourbon. For what I've come to know about you over the course of our nine-year relationship is that you are far more intriguing...really, you might want to consider letting people in on that someday.

Do you remember those years before you hosted the World Equestrian Games in 2010? Frankly, you were a bit haggard, sporting that same outdated southern gentleman garb from decades ago. But now? Hot damn! I feel so chic when I'm with you. The urban gardens, independent shops, galleries and architectural renaissance are definitely tapping into your European roots. And your taste in food has drastically improved (thank God). You've gone and gotten all locavore on me and I'm liking it. A lot.

I sometimes hear people snicker at your accent and how you pronounce words like "Versailles." Don't fret. You've got your own way about you and it's incredibly charming. Plus, you are far more cultured than those big city boys I used to run around with. Artisan bakeries, microbreweries, gay pride parades and "Thriller" dancing in the streets? Opera, ballet, outdoor art fairs, weekly jazz and bluegrass concerts tucked away in neighborhood parks, and community croquet on Saturdays? Needless to say, Lexington, I'm smitten.

I adore your knack for party planning each spring and fall when we spend hours at Keeneland race track wearing our spiffy clothes, tailgating on the front lawn, picking our favorite horses based on the color of their cloths (that's how you do it, right?) and then placing those winning (and losing) bets. I may never get all that jargon about furlongs and fillies, but the crowds you draw in from all over the world never cease to impress me.

We laugh about it now, but early on, your basketball obsession annoyed the hell out of me. I tried to play along, even doing that silly circle around the eye thing. But the blue and white all over the place, chanting something about "cats" and causing ruckus all winter long? It was a bit much. Obviously, it's not just you; even POTUS took a shine to that Anthony Davis fellow you kept talking nauseam. But now, your Wildcats are even starting to tug at the heartstrings of this Buckeye girl...just please don't tell your neighbors to the north.

Do you know what I love most about you though, sweet Lexington? I love that you never say 'no' to big dreams. I've been with others, ones that promised to fulfill with networking and opportunities, but in the end they were too busy, too distracted, too vain. But you, you've created a platform for the pursuit of possibility and then go above and beyond, rallying everyone around in support. You have this amazing way of encouraging dreamers to dream bigger, doers to do more and givers to continue giving. I couldn't imagine starting an international business magazine from my dining room table with another. In this relationship, we're going the distance.

Nevertheless, we've had our differences over the years and there have been times I've wanted to break up; to move beyond the borders of your wooden planked horse farm fences and experience a world of kosher delis, Midwest diners, beach sunsets and crowded subway stations. I'll be honest; I've even had trysts with a few far more exotic. But you always draw me back, reminding me with your coy cosmopolitan charm why I stay year after year. Lexington, I've fallen hard for you. You've won me over and opened my eyes to the true beauty of small town hospitality and big city dreams. Because you give both.


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