Visiting Kansas and Other Adventures

I recently returned from a 5 day vacation to Garden City, KS to visit my cousins, Hazel and Winter. Originally, I was planning on couch-bouncing, but ultimately I settled with spending the night with my uncle and aunt. I haven’t seen my cousins in two years and many changes have occurred.

Two years ago, Winter went through a shotgun marriage because she was pregnant. When I visited her, she was very pregnant. Pregnant to the point where she gave birth within two weeks of my family leaving. My dad came with me on that trip and he swore he would never go to Garden City again. “For what? It is just too far away and it is a desolate wasteland that reeks of cow shit,” he said. He is right.

The true reason I went is because Winter is an interesting person and she has some pretty crazy friends. Garden City is also like looking into a porthole into an alternate universe. It is a town where people marry young and where the chief occupation is making and raising babies. These families are supported by minimum wage jobs and government assistance. At this point in my life, I have no family of my own and I don’t have many close connections with other families. Since one of the core motivations of most people is family, I wanted to experience what the family world would be like. I can see the enjoyment of it, but I am certain it is a thoroughly bankrupting endeavor. I find it tragic that young families do not earn the resources they need to succeed. I feel as if, by the time a person can finally earn enough to support a family, it is too late to start one.

I had fun with Winter’s friends. Some of them befriended me on Facebook and I was delighted to meet them in person. The feeling was mutual. I also got to spend a day with Sarah, who is someone that I’ve had a mild crush on since I first met her. We share similar backgrounds, however she recently lost her mother to cancer. She is an intelligent, quiet and lovely young woman. I got to meet her boyfriend briefly, however we never held a conversation. He just didn’t feel talkative, which is okay. Silence is not awkward.

Hazel is a busy person. She is in school and working two jobs. She didn’t return my texts, my Facebook messages or my calls at first, but eventually I got my aunt to pry her from her shell. Just before I left town, we had dinner one-on-one. We shared in petty gossip and perspectives on things. To my surprise, she said that she would stay in Garden City and join the police force. Her ex-boyfriend ended up becoming part of the system for awhile and is struggling with drug addiction. She wasn’t even interested in returning to Sioux Falls, which shocked me.

This whole experience has opened my eyes at how small and petty our spaces are. You would think you would want to escape an isolated, desolate, fecal-smelling wasteland as soon as possible, but the burdens of habits and years and the debts of existence buckle us down to wherever we are until we reach the point where we lose the motivation to be anywhere else. It makes me wonder, how small is my world? I had envisioned Winter going to Los Angeles and, with the force of her personality, find some success in television or film. I envisioned Hazel going to New York or Boston and finding her happiness there. Or, at the basest of minimums, return to Sioux Falls to be with the rest of the family. No – instead they remain satellites in a land forsaken of visitors and left to rot with humans whose sole purpose is to “be fruitful and multiply.” It is a recipe for famine.

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In Other News…

I almost got a free puppy last Monday. I desperately need (or want?) a dog. My mom knew of someone who had a litter and brought me over to her house to look at them. Sadly, I had to turn the little pup away because I was leaving for my trip and I wouldn’t be able to bond with him. I felt like a horrible monster declining the puppy. My mom was impressed with my self-control.

On the way down to Kansas, my roommate texted me to say that the kitchen sink was clogged. I grimaced because I suspected that he was pouring grease down the sink instead of rinsing his pans properly (I later confirmed this to be true). Upon returning, I set about trying to clear the blockage. I poured boiling water, I plunged, I even added a powerful grease-breaking base, all with limited success. After an hour of plunging, I noticed that the trap was leaking. I removed the trap to seal it again. Then I remembered that my dad had a pipe snake, so I borrowed that. Sadly, as I was feeding the snake down the pipe, the wall pipe broke off due to rust. Ultimately, I had to call a plumber to fix the wall pipe. He also had to call in a specialist to clear the blockage using a HUGE snake on a mechanical drum. This thing had to be carted in on a two-wheeler! I will be handing my roommate the bill.

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