My favorite Civil War hero [because I'm a nerd] is Stonewall Jackson. Yes, one of the ‘rebels’, but for unique reasons. Something unique about Stonewall, like Robert E. Lee, was a die-hard fan of ‘his state’. Jackson always had a strong bond to the state of Virginia, that was his home. Whether he fought for the ‘right’ side, he died for his home.
I always admired this loyalty to an area that in many ways he had no control over. He loved Virginia, and now through history’s telling; Virginia loves him [as do many Civil War nerds]. The reason I enjoyed him so much was because of the ability to relate.
Brief overview: For the first five years of my life, I resided in northeast Kansas. In 1993, a very angry, full river forced us [MC, Jim, and myself] to move to higher ground elsewhere. However, there was something about those five years that were detrimental to my upbringing. The train that would roll by hour house several times a day [and night], the steel plant across the street from our home, and just the concept of sunflowers, wheat, and a place where the wind forever blows [literally]. It was my home, and even though the majority of my life was spent elsewhere; my heart got stuck in Kansas.
And never moved.
For the past several days, for work, I have found myself traversing the country side that is none other then southeast Kansas. Cities such as Parsons, Pittsburg, and Independence [the small one]. You’ll wind for miles along the country side, passing five different BBQ restaurants [and the very random Annie's Chicken], and then out of nowhere you’ll find a town of 12,000 people.
MC always harassed me because I had no reason to be such an advocate of Kansas, and never compliment the town I ended up graduating from [which I have, for the record], but like her small town she grew up in; Kansas is my first home, my first love.
When I was younger, every time we crossed over to Kansas I would confess that the air just tasted better over here [still never hear the end of that as well], but that’s how much my heart was here, in this Sunflower State. I mean good grief, I’ve had friends and family alike, both say that my eyes look like sunflowers [it's true]. I was born for this state.
Tomorrow is my last day out here [for at least a month], but I’ve learned much. Primarily about myself and my God. As I told K8 tonight, I’ve gone this entire trip, except for the first day, without the radio on. Why? Because you don’t need music to speak the volume of God’s love He demonstrates through the sun setting on the prairie. You don’t need loud noise to attempt to drown out the giant, vast sky screaming out, “Look at what your God made!”
I’ve met some random people in these past few days. An old man came up to me at Parsons, never met him in my life. He wanted to know if I could set the correct time for his digital camera. We chatted for a while, farming, crops, cattle, and life. He gloated about his ‘hen’ that he has been married to for 67 years [who was eating next to him], or his ’68’ year old son sitting across from them at the table. He encouraged me, said good luck, the standard rough, gruff good willed, God fearing farmer that sees a future generation. This man was the ideal image of being content. He had nothing at this point in his life that he labeled as ‘regret’.
I guess in conclusion, regardless of what MC may say, this is my home. Every time I reach out into this empty, but living land, I imagine what it would like to have my home out here, in one of these towns; just my ‘safe house’, while I travel the world.
I may be no Stonewall Jackson, but in many instances I do stand as of the last ‘cowboys’ of my time. I still find myself prideful of my roots, where I grew up, and where it started.
As for now; I’ve got a long day tomorrow involving Neodesha and Chanute, plus a trip back to KC, soccer, college graduation, and somewhere in there I need to purchase some new glasses.
My ‘vacation’ was perfect. However, it’s time to get back to work.
P.S. Defintely a shout out to Jo, L-Mac, K8, and Dur for helping me keep my sanity. Some nights alone in the hotel, your texts kept me from nodding off!