I’m sitting in an airport being barraged by an odd sight: T-shirts, fleeces and jackets emblazoned with the logos for the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs or the Kansas Jayhawks.
Granted, I’m in MCI, the Kansas City International Airport, so such sightings aren’t, in fact, all that odd. For the first 22 years of my life, if I went a day without seeing one of those team logos, it would have been quite out of the ordinary. Over the past 8 1/2 years, though, the spotting of a Kansas City area team logo has become a rarer happening, the kind of unexpected reminder of my birthplace that flashes by and then fades quickly into indistinct memory.
Since beginning 10 Cities, I’ve averaged 3 or 4 days in Kansas a year, usually to see the family, or returning for a friend’s wedding. We celebrated a brother’s birthday this year, bringing together the 3 of us siblings who live elsewhere back together with the other 2 and our mother who live in Kansas. Drinking, eating, joking, minimal-politicking and drinking ensued.
These return trips to Lawrence, Kansas tend to be wrought with tension as we are a family of temperamental temperaments and strong, differing opinions (plus, sometimes shit just goes bananas). However, even under the best of circumstances, time in Kansas never sparkles with that pretty nostalgia that so many other people seem to experience when they return to their hometown.
The house I grew up in has long been owned by some other family, while almost everyone I knew from high school and college has moved away or, more simply, I’ve lost contact with them. A few old friends are in the area and I do my best to see at least a couple of them when I’m back, but time corrodes bonds and there are only a select few with whom that connection can be re-established with relative ease. We all have friendships that don’t survive the distance, there’s nothing gained by denying it.
Seeing my family and dearest friends can be an absolute pleasure, as was the case during our all-day barbeque that consisted of a plethora of smoked meats, prolific alcohol consumption, Cards Against Humanity and an impromptu bonfire.
But every return to Kansas reinforces the same cold truth: This is not my home.
Boston is my home. For just a year, true, but no less so for that fact. My life is back there – my apartment, job, friends, books, whiskey – all the more so because my life is all about travel, progression, and Boston is my latest step forward. Sooner than I’m ready, I will be packing up and leaving Boston behind, but for this year between September 1st, 2013 and August 31st, 2014, I live in Massachusetts, I live in this present.
Lawrence, Kansas, as I have always said, is a great place to live, a fine town to have grown up in. But, just as I’ve also always said, I will never, ever live there again.
I return home, today. To Boston.
Home sweet home.