Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Question of the Century

Kristine, in response to my meme from last Friday, asked me why it was that I wound up living in Kansas City after having lived in California and some of the other places I’ve lived in throughout my life. This is a question I encounter just about every time I tell people that I meet that I’m originally from California. So I thought I’d go ahead and talk about it today, as I don’t have any explosive ass stories, or irritated-by-traffic stories, and I’m quite tired of talking about my frustration with my weight and how tired I am lately. (Although I do have quite the headache right now, and I’m starving, even though I just had my midmorning snack…but I digress.)

I remember when I was growing up, the question that was posed to me by just about every human being I encountered was, "How do you like being a twin?" I’m not sure why people stop caring about that topic after a twin grows to be about 20, or so, but people did seem to stop caring. Fortunately, I moved to KC when I was 22, so I gave people an automatically new topic of conversation to discuss when they met me. And I didn’t even plan it out that way!

When I graduated from college back in 1996 (Pepperdine University in Malibu, which was how I had the opportunity to live and study in France for my summer semester, incidentally), I struggled to find my way in LA. I was living with my vunderbar brother in Pasadena in a run-down house above the Rose Bowl, I was working a temp job that I hated at a clothing factory, and I was miserable because I couldn’t seem to run into my ex-boyfriend anywhere around town. Seemed he was staying away from all the old hangouts for some reason. (Couldn’t have been because I was stalking him or anything…nawww…) I was sad, and lonesome, and wasn’t receiving any calls on any of the 70 resumes I’d sent out in response to ads for jobs I thought I would be a good fit for. Hell, Banana Republic didn’t even hire me as a fucking salesperson! The job market was dry as a bone, and it didn’t help me at all with my plan to grow-as-a-person-so-I-could-show-that-ex-boyfriend-(even though he couldn’t have cared less)-that-I-was-the-girl-for-him-dammit. My brother had a girlfriend at the time that was…well, she was a little odd, is all I can say. I loved living with my brother – his friends were fun, and they tried to include me in all their reindeer games as often as they could – but for the most part, I was unhappy. Probly due largely in part to the chasing-the-ex-boyfriend-dream as well as the lack of a good job issue.

So I talked to my sister all the time about Kansas City. She and her husband had moved here in 1994 or 1995, and I came to visit them in May of 1996 after I graduated. And I loved it. I loved the people, and the bars, and the restaurants, and the fact that they lived in a cute house (north of the river at the time)…I didn’t wanna go home, really. We had some icky weather while I was visiting, and while it scared me a bit, it didn’t keep me from taking my sister up on her suggestion that I move here, which I finally decided to do sometime in July. I packed up, tried to help my bro find a new roommate, and then hit the road around August.

I lived with my bro-in-law and sister for 2 weeks or so when I first arrived, but they had since moved into a slightly smaller space in Waldo, so finding a new apartment right away was at the top of my list. I was looking forward to being on my own again, and I found a brownstone by the Nelson-Atkins for only $425 a month (and it was amazingly huge and fabulous compared to my last apartment in West LA for which we paid about $850 a month, and it was only ¾ of the size of my new one-bedroom flat in the brownstone), convinced my dad that YES, I had to find the apartment before I found a job because the house was a bit tight with all of us adults living there together, and moved in. Less than a month later, I found a job at Express on the Plaza. And by December, I’d found my permanent gig with my first Big Company that I ever worked for…which just so happened to be run by my brother-in-law at the time. (The branch I worked for was, I mean…the company was large, and we were only 1 tiny branch of it here in KC.)

I loved it here. I hung out with my sister and bro-in-law a good amount of the time, but they seemed ok with that, for the most part. I finally struck up a friendship with a girl at work that got me out and about and meeting new people more regularly. I met the Dead Boyfriend (a.k.a. Danny) at the end of January, we dated through February, and then our up-and-down rollercoaster started going until he died, of course, at the end of June 1997. I became very close to his group of friends right after that. I spent LOADS of time with them, and loved that they accepted me as a part of their little circle. When my mom got sick, and I decided to move back to California to be with her as much as possible for the duration of her life, it was a very hard thing for me to do. I had found independence and friendship and life was just hitting the right spot – all except for losing the boyfriend…but nothing could change that, and I was going to have to deal with that grief regardless of where I was. But I couldn’t stand to watch my mother die from far away. So I was able to transfer to the San Diego branch of the company (which, incidentally, was where the bro-in-law had been transferred a couple of months before I left…), and I moved back to Cali once again.

I decided that I would eventually live in Kansas again, no matter what. Something about this place makes me feel at home. I don’t know if it’s because it’s where I first was able to strike out and make a name for myself, or if it’s because my family was originally from here many, many, MANY years ago (I had an uncle that was involved in the Lawrence massacre that happened in the Battle of Lawrence in 1856 , but he wasn’t one of the raiders…according to my great-aunt, he was the lookout that morning, and he’d fallen asleep, so none of the townspeople were adequately warned about the impending slaughter that was about to befall them. Nice, eh?), but this place feels right to me. I’ve never been a big fan of living near the ocean, anyway. Give me the open prairies of Kansas and rolling hills of Missouri any day!

My family doesn’t really understand my desire to stay here forever, the way I plan to do. My Twin and I have talked about it, and I think she gets it, really. But my dad and I had one of our largest fights ever when I first planned to move back here after mom died in 1998. He doesn’t understand why someone would choose to move away from their family like I was doing. He felt I was running away from problems, rather than facing them. Really, all I was running away from was a crappy job market and exorbitantly priced living conditions. But I waited a bit longer, decided to try school in Boston for a bit, and THEN I made my way back into the great state of Kansas. And I don’t know how to explain it…I just felt at peace, and settled again, even though it took me 3 months to find a new job (working for a company my bro-in-law ran again).

This is just my home, is all. I plan on living here for a good long while. I loved living in Boston, and would do it again in a minute as well. As long as I was making at least $80,000 a year, that is. And Paris? I wanna live there again, too. I plan on retiring to Boston and Paris when I’m older. (I’d like to live part of the time in the States and part of the time in Europe.) I want the convenience of living in the city and the hubbub of it all around me to keep me going when I’m old and gray. I also want to give up my driver’s license when I’m 65, and living in a place with great public transportation is going to be very helpful.

Now that the boyfriend is in the mix, things are a bit up in the air when it comes to my plans to live in Kansas for the next 35 years. He’d like to live in New York at some point, and Portland at another. I don’t know that he’d ever like to live in Paris, but maybe if he visited once, he’d understand my desire. I’m sure it’ll all work out the way it’s supposed to, for sure, but Kansas City might be a thing of the past for me in the not too distant future. I’m not afraid to move someplace new, honestly. And it’s not like it’s going to happen tomorrow, or something. But I’m open to the change.

Aaaanyway, that’s the story about me moving to KC, and why I love it here and choose it above all other places. Thanks for taking the time to read it, if you’ve made it this far. Hope you learned a little bit more about me. And now, if you'll pardon me, my ass is about to explode, and I need to go find a private place to let it occur, if I can... :)

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