Life in the Slow Lane

I was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, but spent many years on the east coast, specifically in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I attended Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, and graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park (Go Terps!).  I then worked for about ten years in Washington for various advocacy organizations.

Growing up and working in the D.C. area was fantastic. I had friends from every walk of life and from many different countries. I’d stand at a corner, waiting for the light to change, and end up sharing the crosswalk with someone who was going to be on that evening’s news.So it was with a little bit of trepidation that I moved with my husband and our eight-month-old son to Manhattan, Kansas when John took a teaching position at Kansas State University (Go Cats!). It was cool to be moving back to my roots, but I knew life in “The Little Apple” would be much different from life in the nation’s capital.

What I hadn’t expected was how the down-to-earth manner of the folks here in Kansas would resonate with me. The first time I made idle conversation with someone about the weather, they replied by stating the exact amount of rainfall they’d had in their rain gauge that morning. The DNA I inherited from my maternal grandfather, a western Kansas farmer, went “ping!” and I realized that no conversation about Kansas weather is ever an idle one.

When I started writing about everyday Kansans, I was struck by their modesty and basic decency. I once called a family to ask about their tradition of spending Christmas Eve with folks at a local Ronald McDonald House; I had to work to get them to let me write their story. You see, they don’t volunteer for the sake of publicity; they do it because they want their kids to grow up learning that you do for others when they’re in need. Period.

I won’t say I never miss the big city, and life in a small town – and a rural state– does sometimes feel isolating. But I’ve found something special here: folks with a genuine and literal connection to the land and the seasons; people who take the time to chat with a lonely neighbor or make dinner for the family of a deployed soldier.

After fifteen years of living life in the “slow lane” I’ve come to treasure the sense of community that brings us together in times of great joy or heartbreak.Like any group of human beings, those of us who live in a small town have our fair share of disagreements, some of them pretty heartfelt. But in the end, we come together over the things that matter: love of family, love of country, love of community, and the commitment to make life better for our kids and their kids.Maybe the slow lane isn’t such a bad place to be.

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