I was born and raised in Kansas – the sunflower state. I had to leave, of course, once I turned eighteen and needed to head out into the world. The politics are infuriating, and the landscape is flat, and this adventurous spirit needed a whole other kind of infuriating politics – and he needed mountains. He needed overbearing heat with a guarantee of no snow days. That’s what Arizona has done for me.
Strangely, I see more sunflowers in Arizona than I ever really did in Kansas. Every time I see them growing wild, off the side of the highway, I am reminded of my home state. Not the awkward chubby adolescent years or the embarrassing first kiss or the struggles. I’m reminded of friendly people at the gas station, and warm faces during the holidays, of leaves crunching beneath my feet and the crackle of a campground fire pit, and the smell of burning leaves.
I’ll always miss Kansas, even though I’ll never recapture those long-ago memories.