Since yesterday we’ve been steadily climbing up out of the Midwest into the land of terrestrial giants, cloaked in eternal winter. The emergence of hazy blue and white silhouettes on the horizon never loses its magic, no matter how many times I make this trip. Since childhood I’ve been enchanted by the impenetrable landscape, a Kansan toddler already filled with the desire to migrate to higher ground at the first opportunity. My sisters and I made grandiose plans to live in remote cabins where we would write thrilling novels and befriend the local wildlife.
One of my sisters only left Kansas for one month for a job that ended up falling through. She lives in our detested father’s hometown. My oldest sister turned 30 last month. She left Kansas at 22 and moved to Iowa with her husband and they’re still there.
I don’t mean to bring everything back to them, but they still account for more than half my life’s influence and experience. They’re such a looming shadow, blaming me for our family’s strife. Yet I’m the one ascending. I’m the one following the sunlight to destinations that feed my soul something other than the bread of bitterness. All this beauty still brings to mind the stark contrast of my ugly past.
The mountains make me feel more whole, and even in the prolonged cold I can breathe more deeply out here. The trouble with being from Kansas is, you can only get halfway across the country when you run as far as you can go.