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  • mswood303

Kansas hasn't grown any mountains. Cousins are good people.

Updated: Apr 3

This trip, like many others, started out with issues. Not my normal travel, TSA, idiot-in-front-of-me issues, but emotional issues. I, ahead of my fledgeling two younger children and husband, had the auspicious duty of moving my eldest to her big-kid job in Kansas City. The rest of the crew and I would meet up in Memphis (later).

This task is the first of many times (I am sure) that I will swing my leg back and kick my baby birds out of the nest. Here's my flex: my eldest graduated Summa Cum Laude with an HBS -- that stands for Honors Bachelorette of Science. (I had no idea people got H's). She is smart and creative, and somehow got past the AI-job screens for an exciting position as an events coordinator for a private, la-te-da, exclusive guest ranch. (Plebs like you and me won't get invited.)

So we loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly... Hills, that is... okay (not only am I dating myself) but it is in Leawood, KC.

Driving across Kansas has always been a perfunctory part of my childhood. Not only did my parents grow up one state over -- Missouri (where I spent summer's with Grandma), but my Tutu's family, the Hibbard's (of Daughter of the American Revolution status), still operate a 155+ -year owned farming-ranch (Perspective, that's 1859, pre-civil war). I've travelled I-70 across the Great Plains more often than I can count. Point A to point B. And, Kansas hasn't grown any mountains.

I have two daughters, and they are both my best friends, and I don't want to live away from my best friends, but (and I keep this in close focus) I am still their mother and the last thing I want is for them not to discover themselves during their maiden years. They are in, after all, the shortest stage of Hecate's trilogy. (Maiden, Mother, Crone). So, I test the direction of the wind, smooth their feathers, and shove. I'll wipe my tears later.

We arrived at her short-term studio she rented while she figures out a more permanent housing situation. It is decorated in a Buddhist-inspired motif, and beside her bed is a Genesh statue. For those not in the yoga know, Genesh is the multi-armed elephant god, and he is the remover of obstacles. So, I'm feeling better about leaving my baby to fly over this strange landscape.

We met with my second-cousin and her niece (third cousin?), who is approximately my daughter's age, for dinner. While I don't think it's a blooming friendship, it is comforting to know that she has local family to call if shit goes sideways. (Yes, I could have said wind, but too much metaphor and I lose you.)

I'll just call them cousins. They are family who I haven't seen since before my father passed, and the thing I noticed most is how welcoming they are. People talk about magic friendships that just pick up where they left off -- that is also my experience with my extended family. One big hug. Yeah, we know each other through the occasional FB post, but somehow knowing we share some DNA is heart-warming. But, I also think, a huge part of it is, they are just really nice people.

My daughter had to get up for her first day at work. I stayed out of her way. We hugged. She left. I wrote a long note telling her how proud I am of her and then I loaded up my rented Suburban and headed towards Memphis. Yes, I kept driving east, not because I like long drives across our vast land -- but because, I had another set of cousins (first cousins) in St. Louis (a half-way point between KC and Memphis) and I hadn't seen them since the funeral. So, why not? Sometimes, family requires a little effort to keep in touch.

My only girl cousin let me bunk-down at her house. She called all her local brothers (she has 3, one lives in Cali), and they also made the effort to come have dinner with me. Again, we picked up where we left off. As my cousins age, I can definitely see more of my Aunt and Uncle in them, and it brought back memories of humid Missouri summer nights at the lake house, my dad, my mom, and my grandparents -- and me, as a maiden. (Fly baby bird, fly! You'll be okay.) Their idiosyncrasies tugged at my heartstrings.

It's good to travel. It's important to maintain family connections. It's good to move to a new city and find your way around. It's good to be good people.

Next stop Memphis -- I'm going to Graceland.

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