Friday, June 17, 2005

I'm melting! I'm melting! - Kansas Part 2

I sat on my flight attendant jump seat staring at the back of my passanger's heads and changed my mind about driving to Kansas at least 10 times. It was my last flight of my four day trip, and my last flight before picking up the rental car. Later, walking down the aisle while checking seatbelts I decided not to go.

After work, in the Denver airport, I changed out of my uniform. I grabbed dinner and waited for my flight home to Portland, Oregon.

While I waited the feeling that I was making a mistake, grew and grew as I watched families walking by. Finally, I jumped up and headed to the rental agency and hired my car.

I was on my way to the tiny little town of Rexford, Kansas.

A few hours and a couple truck stops later (including some lost turn a rounds) I was pulling up to the little Prairie House I was going to stay in.
It was cute and dark and I was tired. So I slept. (Great story so far, eh?)

First thing the next morning, I took a walk. To the school where my mom went, and my Grandfather was the superintendent of. Walking through the school I let my hand glaze over the aged wood banisters inside as I made my way into the main staircase into the hall (it is a 3 story school house built in the 1920’s). I looked over the trophies of the last 85 years and walked into to the auditorium/gym. I sat on a bench and thought about my mom.

Did she sit here and cheer at a basketball game? Did she sing on the stage with a choir? Was she popular, or quiet? Then getting up, because no matter how long I sat, I would not have any answers here, I walked to the lower level. On the wall I saw the graduating class pictures of the last 85 years. It was interesting because since it started the average class size was about 6 –15 people, sometimes less.

Looking through the early forties I saw the pictures of the first year my grandfather was the superintendent. He was young and his eyes twinkled like he was really happy. I made my way to 1952 when my uncle graduated; he looked as cocky as ever. I held my breath as I looked at 1958. There was a picture of my mom. Her hair was perfectly curled, she wore big button earrings, horn-rimmed glasses, and a VERY 1950’s dress. I couldn’t stop starring. She looked like a different person that I knew/know. I mean, the same face, younger of course, but different. Not knowing what to do with this feeling. I walked out and onto the main street.

The interesting thing about Kansas is the surprising beauty. I have always thought – coming from the mountains, near the ocean with rivers all around – that the prairie, dry flat land must be harsh and ugly. Just thinking about being surrounded by flat land as far as the eye could see, made me feel suffocated and nauseated. Standing on the main street in a small town, with flat land as far as the eye could see was beautiful. I can’t explain why but it was almost as awe inspiring as starring at Mt. Hood. I took in the view and then walked to the only church in the town, which my family went to.

When I walked in I noticed it was a perfect arts and crafts style church. I sat down and looked up at the stain glass windows that were beautiful and imagined my mom sitting in the middle of her family. Her older and younger brother on each side of each her, as her mother and father sat near them holding a hymnbook together. My mother wore her best dress. That’s where the daydream ended, because that is all I know.

I got up to leave, and saw a old guest book, I opened it up and it landed on a page in 1965. Glancing down at the page I saw my grandparents name signed in my grandmother’s handwriting.

Mr. and Mrs. Francis Gift.

They had moved to Montana in 1963, so they must have been visiting.

There was something about seeing her handwriting. She’s been gone now, since for 10 years – also passing from Alzheimer’s just a few years before my mother was diagnosed. Stumbling upon this felt like I was overhearing her talk knowing that she can’t speak. I almost dropped the book.

I had to get out. I checked on my friend, who was still sleeping, and jumped in the car to the nearest restaurant. It was 20 miles away. In the next town.

I grabbed my book and walked in after the calming drive. It was funny, I was reading a book about small towns – and them staring at the newcomers – when I looked up and saw the old men just staring at me like I was from the traveling circus. The food was amazing if you like meat (which I do). The prices were fantastic (nothing like paying for a cheeseburger, fries, milk shake for $2.99!).

When I got up, the cute little waitress, reminded me – seeing as I was from out of town and all… there was a Tornado warning for the rest of the day and that night. She wanted to make sure I knew what to do.

I didn’t.

She gave me a little crash course. Stay away from outside walls; go into a basement, and away from windows if I heard the tornado siren or if it at all seemed like tornado weather.


Where I was staying had no basement, no inside rooms, and windows in every room….


She asked where I was staying,

“Oh the girl from Portland,” She said. “ I heard you got in at like 3am last night”. Small towns then struck me as a little creepy, as I wasn’t even in MY small town I was staying at.

She assured me the church next door was always unlocked. I could just run in their basement.I paid my bill, and got excited about the tornados. No big deal right? I could always go in the church, and it was always unlocked…right?

Tomorrow, My real life Twister adventure and meeting my Mother thru her best friend.


Necessary2 said...

Wow...can't wait for part 3.

jonny ragel said...

freaking awesome, teresa. I like the way you wrote this. I'll be looking forward to part three.

secret agent josephine said...


BonikaStJames said...

I am really wanting to hear the next part. Teresa you've always been an amazing writer and this is incredible! Love, Bonnie

jonny ragel said...

part III? this wait is worse then star wars.


Matt said...

I feel a little like I'm eavesdropping on an amazing conversation while I ride the light rail. And as far as the use of Fantabulous goes, you're no longer alone. Maybe we could form a support group or something.

Ben Delaney said...

I love this! I found your blog from Jaime's. How fun!
Great Story. You're hilarious.

BethInPortland said...

Geez will you please finish this for your fans! Please Please Please.

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