Unless circumstances are radically altered, there’s no exotic travel in my immediate future, but I will soon plan a trip to Kansas for a family reunion.
If you’d asked me 5 years ago to select Kansas from an unlabeled US map, I probably would have failed. This isn’t a false modesty; it’s a confession. Now that I have been there, I understand the beauty of the land, and the complicated appeal of a town lifestyle.
Of course the romantic within me heard echoes of Willa Cather, her odes to strong frontiers women, as we wound along the highway between Wichita and Hutchinson, streams and the Arkansas River complacently delineating plots of fertile earth. Standing solidly on the ground in the town of Yoder, where we stopped for lunch, a fanciful imagination was surprised that my feet did not sprout roots and bore themselves deeply into the aromatic soil.
Family is like that earth: fertile, fertile ground. I am not typically a teary type but family can lead me to weep without shame – whether through pain or bliss, and most preferably the latter. Gathering in the old farm town of Hutchinson, kinship flows through me with a soul-level recognition even though we are of different religions, political affiliations, sexual orientations. Somehow despite all of our differences we are connected.