Saturday, January 30, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

Being a total doof face, I managed to leave my camera at my mom's house, so this is the only proof I have that I was there. But OH, what proof it is. It is both SHOCKING and fantastic that Wichita and Kansas City are the only places I have found on this earth, thus far, with the greatest Thai food, ever ever EVER. The panang gai is sweet, hot, and rich; the tiger cry beef is a salty burning pop; and the pad thai??? Jesus wept, I wept, the children at the orphanage wept. Every bite is a flaming surge of flavor. I swear: I made noises at that table that should have gotten me arrested. I should do sound loops for Cinemax. I should be handcuffed to a tree. I should ever be so lucky to eat like that twice a year, let alone all year long. People of Wichita! Know your wealth! Revel in the extreme succulent blessings of Thai Traditions and drop to your knees in thanks.

Fools, you don't even know.

Anyhow, my trip out was some kind of wonderful, with no elbows at my side and plenty of space to spread out and relax. I had enough layover time in the St. Louis airport to sample Wolfgang Puck's Cafe, so I bought a salad and received a mountain of Chinese crisps with a sprinkling of cabbage. The chicken was good, so it wasn't the biggest waste, but the joke of the plains is that you can't get a real salad in the Midwest. This is painfully true in my hometown, but it was nice to see that St. Louis honored that tradition, too. In Wichita, thus far, every salad has either been a pile of toppings with five pieces of iceberg lettuce or a mound of wrinkled, dry romaine. Look, it's the middle of the country. They have to import green.

My first night in Wichita was spent realizing that I no longer have the capacity to endure smoke-filled rooms, no matter how good the music is. (PS. Liesl, please remind me of the band's name because I want to add them on Facebook. Coming from a limplover of music, this is huge compliment, so do it, do it now.) We met at Kirby's where something called Meatfest was happening: It was basically bands playing and barbecue outside. All of my sister's boyfriends were there...even the dead one, in memory, forty thousand of her closest friends. All in a space the size of your first dorm room. I had multiple blank faced people tell me, "Oh. It's you. Yeah, she was REALLY excited you were coming" in tones that expressed that, now I was there, they were underwhelmed with the reality of me. I guess I should have remembered my top hat, monocle and nipple clips to impress. Next time!

The majority of the trip was hanging with the moms and a whole lotta shopping. I danced through the aisles of WalMart, never realizing before how wonderful and shiny it was before. Soooo many THINGS. All for 88 cents! In the weirdly religious Hobby Lobby I had one mantra running through my head: Calm down calm down calm down. Because I was waaaay too excited. There were chickens. Everywhere. At one point I over heard one elderly lady tell another, "Chickens must really be in this year." Hell YES. Chickens are in every year, mama.

The highlight of the trip was seeing my nieces. They are both in especially interesting stages in their lives. One is a teen, the other is five. You can imagine how amazing these kids are. I spent a wonderful morning with Rori, the twee beeb, having a tea party and enjoying her particularly moving Martin Luther King, Jr. song, which I believe she was taught at some point in class or perhaps at her Buddhist learning center. It started pretty predictable with "Martin Luther King just wanted some peace..." but then I *think* she started riffing (I mean, who knows, maybe MLK had Rori's problems, too) with: "Martin Luther King just wanted the teenagers to be nice to their sisterrrrs." She sang this throughout the morning, most memorably at one point while pile driving her sister's back. She was bringing the peace and, I quote, "some treetom" (freedom). Yes!

At one point in the morning, Sage, the elder, started playing piano. I didn't initially realize it, but it was confirmed that the beautiful music she was playing was, in fact, her own. People, there is NO SHAME in crying. And I did. I've heard her play guitar and sing before and I have to say, without reservation, that this little woman is nothing short of a miracle. She's incredible. I hope one day you can hear her, too. You will cry. And you will not feel shame!

Mom and I had great times watching HGTV and her programming, but what I loved most was just spending time...talking or driving around, whatever. She deals with my whims pretty well, which is what most of my visits home are comprised of, so she gets a gold star for that. She didn't even yell at me when I drove the truck like a maniac. It seems, after all, that I am a bad driver no matter how much I limit my driving per year.

The trip back was not as idyllic. There was an odd moment in the Wichita airport when a frightened little bird flew frantically around the terminal, banging heartily against the glass to get out. He was corralled and made it out to much ado and clapping. However, with all prejudice and spite, I must declare that O'Hare airport in Chicago is the devil's buttstain and must be cleansed of it's evil with a Handiwipe of Righteousness. I was getting sick at that point, so the run/fast trot/lunge from way-the-hell-over-here terminal to bum-fudged-Egypt terminal over there was never going to be remembered as a ladies day at the garden. After hearing final boarding call, I knew I should have given up at my starting point, but I pushed it and when I actually made it (by the nick of a hair's time) I still had the wherewithal to be annoyed when the gate-asshole said, "Ohmygod, are you OK?" With my bronchial shrieking and beet red face, I would have thought the obvious answer SO. I made it, but got dog sick and was out of work for two days because of it. But whatever. It was totally worth it. I love going home! I love seeing Crumb Castle, the river, the totally hokey, "artistic" additions on river bridges and by Riverside Hospital that suggest a quiet yet sweet desperation to be KOOL, and I miss the known places of home: 21st street, the railroad tracks, Century II, the canal route, Towne East Mall, Rock Road, WSU, turning right on a red, Kellogg, Broadway, North High, most loved. Hearts hearts hearts.

See you in the summertime...


Blogger Flushy McBucketpants said...

"the devil's buttstain and must be cleansed of it's evil with a Handiwipe of Righteousness."

this phrase could describe soooo many airports—JFK, Heathrow, SFO, Newark, Dulles—Portland is really the best airport I've ever encountered. I recommend it.

2:44 AM  
Blogger Shiny said...

I'll take that as an invitation to visit!

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you saw and liked the iiis. You have good taste.

I am so hungry since I took a gander at your pics. Thai Traditions needs to be open 24 hours a day. They just do. For me.

I wish we'd recorded Rori's version of the MLK song and I think the biggest airport I've ever been in is South High School. At least it felt like that trying to find my meeting yesterday.

The word of the day is "chollhon" as in "please enjoy this delectable dish of chollhon."

-Liesl, who can't remember her username. Again.

3:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh! Maybe you saw Honky Tonk Devils, too?

3:47 AM  

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