Living in Missouri still feels like punishment, but it’s more along the lines of community service than Alcatraz. My breath caught in my throat when I glimpsed a mountain the other morning. Then my mountain resolved into the pointy roof of a car parts store.
Disappointing, but not catastrophic. That sums it up.
It may be in my best interests to find things that are not disappointing. I concede this. There is a certain logic there. Unfortunately I just can’t work out how to find non-disappointing things while sitting in bed in my pajamas.
In my slight defense, I don’t have anywhere to sit that isn’t my bed. I really probably should get at least a couch, but I am reluctant to purchase furniture if I’m just going to be moving next year anyway. Also, I haven’t been paid yet. My first paycheck arrives on Halloween. There is a very real danger that I will forget my debts and instead spend several thousand dollars on Kit Kats.
At the pet store today I wandered through the dog section, hoping to find someone who needed petting. I noticed that the dog beds were awfully big and awfully comfy looking. Then I started to wonder if I could pass off dog beds as human furniture, or if the milk-biscuit motif would be a giveaway. Eventually I tabled the idea, but mainly because the absence of back support could lead to problems, not because there’s anything wrong with decorating one’s home in Modern Kibble.
Tomorrow I plan to visit something called Swope Park, which is a sizeable green patch on the map. Unfortunately it’s about thirty minutes away, but I am starting to understand that everything is about thirty minutes away. It doesn’t matter where you start or where you want to go. It will take you half an hour to get there.
This is part of a physics unique to the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, a sprawling mass comprising one city and innumerable suburbs. It is huge. It is really huge. It is the Jabba-the-Hutt of urban living. I would guess, optimistically, that I will have a handle on the local geography in about four hundred years. That’s if I study really hard.
Bear in mind that I once got lost in my own bathroom. True story.
I’ll say this much for Missouri: I am now positioned for exploring whole new territories. There is Nebraska, for instance: I am sure it has a culture and history and charm all its own. Probably. Well — possibly. Definitely possibly. Definitely possiblyish.
And to the south I can find the Ozark Mountains, which are darling little foothills compared to the mountains back home, but I am in no position to be say patronizing things about them. They’re all I’ve got. Anyway I think I’ll like them fine, since Where the Red Fern Grows is set in the Ozarks and that’s a brilliant book, provided you never ever ever read the final chapter.
And if I head west? There’s a whole lot of Kansas — it’s a pity, can’t be helped — but then I would get to Colorado. Colorado does not loom in my imagination quiet as large as Alaska or Maine or Texas, but it’s worth probably nine or ten Nebraskas, easy. I have never visited, but my copy editor lives out there, and after someone has scrutinized and improved four hundred pages of your book, you feel absolutely fine about asking to crash on her couch, nevermind that you’ve never met her in person.
But those are plans for the future. Colorado won’t be happening for at least half a year, because I don’t get to use vacation until then. Wanderlusting for the next few months will be limited to weekend trips. With any luck I’ll find a way to go exploring where the red fern grows, and then I’ll say hi to Old Dan and Little Ann, WHO ARE VERY MUCH ALIVE, THANKS FOR ASKING, and I’ll join them on their milk-biscuit patterned doggie bed.