Born and raised in a small town in Kansas, I eventually realized my lifelong dream of leaving both the town and finally, Kansas.
The truth is, dreaming was pretty much all I did for most of those first 18 or-so years and the dreams were colorful and exciting. I was a photojournalist, a prized writer, an eccentric traveler, strange and beautiful and sought after by famous magazines and publishers. I captured the Pulitzer photo on every outing. My family back home missed me and regretted treating me with such indifference. But I couldn’t go home.
Driven to find and write one story after another – capturing the essence that only I could imagine and communicate – my writing was my life. I had no home and could not go back to Kansas.. They just didn’t ‘get’ me there… and never did. I was chic, wealthy, hip, and oh-so-elusive. I wore tight, straight-legged Levis and brown, loose knit sweaters and a black, lacy, push-up camisole underneath (Not really. Okay, yeah, really. It’s a dream, okay?).
I traveled with a backpack full of lenses and notepads, hiking through the rough terrain of mountainsides, narrow paths, impossibly dangerous locations and the indigenous tribes, heretofore unfriendly, welcomed me, inviting me in to tell their story as they sensed that only I could. I was afraid of nothing. I had a calling. A story to write.
To the great relief of several weary teachers and a skeptical parent, I graduated high school, my dreams intact, if a little muted.
I did a short and mostly hilarious stint in college until I exhausted my limited funds, but not before I learned enough to know that I needed to get out of Kansas. But how?
I joined the Army. I trained (again, mostly hilarious) as an MP. At my first duty station, I met and married my first husband and the two of us traveled to my second duty station in Hawaii, where I landed a job in the Public Affairs Office. I wrote. I took photos. I learned how to paste-up a weekly newspaper. I traveled. I finally had an audience. I lived in a cool apartment on the beach with my beautiful southern husband. I got pregnant. A couple of years later, I did it again.
My Southern husband and two babies and I moved back to Kansas. Actually, when my tour of duty ended and we studied, debated, and mapped out our return to the mainland, we landed on Virginia, Arizona, or Kansas as the possible places we would raise our little family. I didn’t know for many years that my sports-fanatic
husband pushed the Kansas option–-not so I could be near my family, but because they have a professional football team he liked.
Three years later and in my early 30’s, I got pregnant again. My charming husband was never much of a wage earner and in fact, never really worked much at all. Thankfully, I landed a job making enough for us to get by – without many extras – but, we got by. I wasn’t writing much at that point except the random angry tangent in some secret diary under the mattress. This was all pre-DSL and MSWORD and Yahoo was just the guy who snatched my newspaper out of the driveway every Sunday morning. When the third baby was a year old, my beautiful husband died in a car crash.
I set about raising my children in an old farmhouse in the country. They are grown up now. Smart, beautiful and mostly happy. One of them is the younger version of me. Driven. Answering a calling from somewhere in his soul. It has nothing to do with writing or words but he is searching and traveling. He lives in Arizona. Turns out they have a football team there, too. He looks just like his beautiful dad.
I remarried eventually and now have a rugged and beautiful second husband. We are old and mostly happy. We have some land and a small garden. He loves fishing, camping, farming… and me.
I kayak, camp, play around with indie films, and nose around my kid’s lives, when they let me. I run a small business from my home. I am still searching for the perfect story. I am still dreaming.