I don't know why I thought it would be any different. My whole family lives here in The Center (from AMERICAN GODS, one of my saving graces on this trip), but that's all this state has to offer me besides bad memories and humidity.
For those of you who have Moved Away, did you ever get that sensation, when you stepped into a new state, country, or town, of realization? Not of place, but of self? Growing up in the suburbs of Kansas City and Chicago, I always had a vague sense of displacement. Not once did I realize I didn't belong until I went away to Colorado, and I looked around and thought, with profound relief: Home. I still get that sense. I'm not halfway through my trip, and I'm homesick. People here might be angry at that--people in my family who call this place home and are defensive of their choice to stay (and our choice to leave). Kansas is not a bad place, and it has its pockets of beauty and cleverness, like anywhere. But it gestates self-absorbtion.
Nowhere do I get stared at more than in Topeka--hostile, hungry stares, sometimes, and I'm just standing there. (Mostly from women.) Every single person I try to have a conversation with brushes me off. I suppose if they dare step outside themselves and take a look around, thoughts of "This is it?" might edge in.
It's a matter of not fitting in, I suppose. But it's become an ocean or a mountain, a feat I've given up attempting.