2011/09/30

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Since moving to Phoenix, we’ve only been back to Kansas once – a lightening quick holiday tour of four cities where friends and family live, in wicked winter driving conditions and with an international flight out of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor to catch within hours of getting back to Arizona. It was a good but hardly thoughtful trip, a blur of hugs & faces & snow under that familiar big Midwest sky.

This time we flew back (thanks to an unbelievable sale on airfare). Cutting out four days of driving gave us more time, and there were fewer deadlines and less homework to keep track of.

Should it have felt like a trip home?

It didn’t.

As we drove through places so familiar, I felt recognition but not nostalgia. I realized that even as we pulled out in the U-Haul just over two years ago, the house my family owned for 20 years was already becoming past and I had to remind myself to take one last look in the side view mirror, in case I wanted that memory for later, just before we slid around the corner.

Today, I can show what matters most to me about Kansas in a single photo of my cousin’s bookshelf.

This is why, wherever I end up, I’ll be drawn back from time to time, making the drive or taking the flight.

And from now on, this is the time of year I want to visit. The green of summer is at its lushest, the rivers are high and the earliest fields are beginning to boast hay bales instead of faded corn. In a far more modest way than the flashy bright pinks and oranges of the desert sky, the sunsets can be spectacular.

OK. Maybe there’s a little bit of nostalgia after all.

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