Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fear and Loathing in Lawrence

I am California Dreaming, but on such a spring day? It doesn't even make sense. Winter is over. What gives with the atlas gazing and frequent visits to FYI-this is a site that gives overviews of cities and really not naughty at all. Somehow the spring thaw has yet to happen in my psyche. This winter left me bereft. I am so out of love with this, the town of my heart. Instead of buoyant at the change in season I feel a sense of impending doom. I have to get out before "it" happens all over again.

Frankly, I am obsessed. All I think about is life somewhere else. I am so consumed that I actually found myself wondering where "Clifford the Big Red Dog" is set. There seems to be proximity to the ocean, constant blue skies, and people/dogs who seem cheerful without the use of a sun lamp. In case you don't set your child in front of moving images (aka-tv) and don't know-this is a cartoon. Hence, it is not really set anywhere and unlikely to hold the answer to all of my location related woes.

What gives and what is it all about? I hail from western Kansas and should be made of heartier stock. Is this some kind of mid-life crisis (titillating future post alert-more on that very real possibility right around the bend). Do I have some kind of bona-fide seasonal affective disorder? In which case, don't I owe it to myself to live my best life?

With kids in the picture the prospect of moving becomes (just like every other friggin subject) soooo emotionally loaded. The thought of taking them from this place and the nearness of those who love them so well gives me an awful feeling in my gut and a lump in my throat. After all, isn't part of growing up having that moment of realization about what is really important and the connection with home? It is the end of every story since the beginning of time. The a-ha moment that sends you back into the arms of your motherland.

And me one of the biggest gifts I could give my children is the world. Open it up to them, extend their horizons, give them homes. Here, where they would always visit and have roots. And a new city and everything that brings. Like weather that doesn't make you want to stick your head in the oven.

"Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth."
Nathaniel Hawthorne
(FYI-I got this little gem not from reading lots of Hawthorne but from Jhumpa Lahiri's book "Unaccustomed Earth" which is phenomenal and not coincidentally filled with stories of immigrants Click on the title and you can read this beautiful book.)

Little citizens of the world. People who would feel that anything is possible. After watching the Katherine Hepburn film "Summertime" in its 2 hour entirety a few weeks ago my four year old asked me a thousand questions about Venice (where the movie is set) and about Italy. The next day she had tears in her eyes and told me she wanted to "see all the beautiful, sparkly things in the world" and could she? Did she have time? When, exactly, were we going to Italy? Folks, I can't make this stuff up. She is quite the old soul. I was floored. Aghast. How can I give my children this sense of adventure and possibility. In Kansas? On a budget? A move signifies that anything can be. Our story isn't completely written. That there really isn't anything, beyond our own selves, that hold us back or tie us down.

I really want to end with some kind of answer. But I have way more questions than answers at this point. And for your reading pleasure I intend to explore them right here. Oh, good times. Look for my brilliant dissection on mid-western living and an exploration of the very cliche, yet oh-so-very-real existential crisis that is upon on me, on this my 10th year of marriage and 34th year. Despite the warming temps, I predict you will need a shovel.


  1. So I am still new to the process of moving from an essay approach to that of a dialogue and forgot to include an invitation in my post. I would love to hear from anyone who has moved or has never moved (so I guess pretty much everyone). What are the challenges of relocating and/or the challenges of staying put in your family's experience? Also, what are your thoughts about raising children around extended family?

  2. As someone who just moved from Lawrence KS to Wichita KS, I naturally have to comment. My comments about relocating will be less relevant to your post because this is not a move I hoped for, but one I made very begrudgingly. The challenges of moving are greater when 1) you love the place you are moving from and dislike the place you are moving to and 2) do not have a job at the new location.

    I miss our life in Lawrence so much that I don't even like to think about it because it is painful. The fact of the matter is we are stuck here for 3 years and I have to accept that. Complaining will not undo the reality of the situation, but just makes me feel worse. However, I constantly catch myself complaining & throwing pity parties. I just feel lost here and out of place. I left behind in Lawrence beloved family & friends as well as a business that I truly enjoyed. I traded a full schedule for a blank one. Trying to establish a schedule here is like torture, esp with no job, no family, and no playgroup connections.

    I am sure things will get better and that I will eventually figure this out. But in the meantime...ew.

  3. But you are already throwing parties? That is awesome. Maybe you can throw a few of the pity variety and then once word gets out about your hosting style you can go for a different theme. Too bad you missed Cinco de Mayo. Oh, seriously though, Lawrence misses you guys. And it is nice to be reminded that this is truly is a magical place and that establishing yourself somewhere new is not all fun and games. I know you will do great but don't fall in love with Wichita. Lawrence is a jealous lover who wants you back in 3 years.


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