In the weeks before we moved to Kansas, I consistently heard the same thing about moving to the Midwest: “The sunsets are amazing.”
While I didn’t doubt the veracity of these testimonies, I was still cynical about them. Sure, the sunsets might not be great in a city, but if I needed to see one, I could find a good enough spot, couldn’t I? In short, I assumed people were grasping at straws. I eventually heard it as, “Well, I can’t say that it sucks that you’re moving to Kansas, so I’ll talk about sunsets instead.”
I’m happy to admit I was wrong about this, though. The sunsets here really are amazing, because the sky here is amazing. There’s a lot to dislike about the lack of trees and tall buildings. There’s hardly any shade. There’s less in the way of culture and business and employment opportunities. But at the right time of day, it all seems worth it. Walking around my neighborhood with Neko, or driving around the state with Rachael, I can look up at the sky and imagine that it might swallow us all up. This is my new way to feel surrounded.
When I learned we were moving to Kansas, I could only think about how far it seemed from everything. And that basic truth still holds: it takes a while to get anywhere. But when I was playing out the clock in Maryland, I was only looking at the distance from Kansas to the places I’ve been, not the places I might want to be.
The easy thing to do was to see how long it took to drive from Kansas to home, or to friends or to cities I love visiting. But now that I’m here, I’m struck by the equality of it all. Ten or twenty hours on the road once seemed daunting in the face of short trips to comfortable places. And I still have moments where I desperately want to be in those places, and to get there quickly. But I now have many more moments where I want to go elsewhere, to wander into states that I’ve never been, places that I honestly hadn’t even considered until now.
There’s a map over my shoulder. I ordered it a week ago. I look over at it constantly when I’m at my desk, and I have that same feeling that I could be swallowed. And what’s remarkable is how that feeling is no longer terrifying.