Today, I fly home from this accursed place. The Springfield-Branson National Airport (emphasis mine, because lolz) is practically empty, but I have a electricity and WiFi, which is a luxury compared to most airports, albeit the Occasional Announcement of Obviousness.
All buildings in this airport are designated as smoke-free. Thank you for your cooperation.
I'm trying to answer questions about what it is that simultaneously makes me miss this place and yet, gives me that foreboding sense of dread in the pit of my stomach.
There is an Ancient Greek aphorism that everyone has heard. It's one of the Delphic maxims, which is kind of like the Ten Commandments (though there are over a hundred of them and they make a lot more sense for the most part). The most famous one is simply, Know thyself.
Know thyself. In a country where the extroverted personality is idolized as the ideal, it's easy to forget the importance of this maxim. We're not really taught to examine our actions. We're encouraged to let go of the past. To move forward. Many times before we have even learned from the mistake. We focus too much on getting up again when we fall, that we never realize why we fell in the first place.
May I have your attention please. All carry-ons and checked luggage are subject to search.
When I was growing up, I dreamed of nothing else, save the idea of moving somewhere far away and being able to travel a lot as an adult. It's fair to say that my wife and I have achieved this. But no one, not once, seems to talk about the cost of following your dreams. My costs have been separation from friends and family that I love. Watching them get older, their kids growing up, knowing nothing but the small updates I get when I come home every few years. You miss all the nuance that way. And it sounds like a small thing, but it isn't.
You feel like a bad friend, a horrible uncle, a worthless brother, an inconsiderate son.
I miss this place because I miss the people here.
The 147th maxim is: On reaching the end, be without sorrow.
I dread the Midwest because I felt so trapped here. Every time I come home, I'm afraid that something will happen which will suck me back up in the vortex and I just can't deal with that. I look at myself, how far I've come from Hallowell, Kansas, to Joplin, Missouri, to Austin, Texas, and now Santa Barbara, California, and I'm in awe. I live a life that I only dreamed of as a child, and it took luck, hard work, and people investing in my future. I never would have made it on my own. I didn't have it in me.
The 52nd maxim is: Pray for things possible.
The 56th maxim is: Down-look no one.
The 73rd maxim is: Be happy with what you have.
And I am, because I know how I got here. I was always afraid that I'd shoot myself before the age of the 30. And I didn't. I'm still here. Going home to Santa Barbara.