I landed at the St. Louis Airport in a misty warm rain. After the usual squabble with the inefficiency of the system supposedly designed to help people with physical challenges, I found myself reassuring the rental car shuttle driver that I could scramble into the building without assistance. I made it, greeted by a grinning young man who assigned a car and drove it to the curb with a minimum of fuss.
Five days later, I sit at the cluttered kitchen table in a spacious AirBnB, letting my eggs settle in my traveler’s stomach and my coffee cool in its cup. By and by, the bags will be packed and dragged out to that rental car, which has performed admirably and taken me to Gillespie, Illinois and back without so much as a whisper of complaint. I have yet to determine how to add fuel, and the friendly fellow at Hertz made no mention of the portal location. But I should be able to figure that out.
After a couple of stops, I will be KC-bound. From the bedroom, the twang of a text message urges me to abandon my lollygagging and get my act on the road. The app on my phone plays the NPR station in Sacramento, causing only slight confusion as to the time. Grey sky out my window reminds me that I have left the one-week-of-summer behind in California and come to the Midwest with its muggy days of looming autumn.
The pleasant twang of St. Louis greets me in every store and restaurant. I find my own vowels spreading in response. This place almost feels like home, though I shook its dust from my Doc Martens forty-two years ago. Now Kansas City’s strong pull beckons. On the banks of the Missouri, my heart will no doubt flutter. The next five days could be the undoing of five years of deliberate attempt at West Coast acclimation. Oh California, California. Will you take me as I am?
It’s the sixth day of the one-hundred and fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.