1. I have now hit my pain anniversary or painiversary as I like to call it. Yep. I've been uncomfortable because of my leg/back for over a year now. Raise a glass.
2. I have now been in Kansas for 6 years, more or less. In October of 2010, I left the mountains of Asheville, NC to move to the prairie to live with my sister and brother-in-law, bake in a coffee shop and figure out what my game plan should be. Who would've thought that in a couple years I would still be here and my sister would be in thousands of miles away again in Virginia. To be fair, I did leave for several months and then came back when I got a job at Bethel College. I tried to leave, but the prairie sucked me back in. Really, I am not mad about this because if I hadn't come back Levent and I would've never started dating. I would do all of this again if I had to just so I could fall in love with this man all over again. Okay, sorry. No more sappy stuff.
Anyway, I like to take time to mark both of these milestones (more so the second one, not the first). This is my season of reflection, I guess.
Really, October is a good time to think about my time in Kansas thus far because the terrible heat of the summer is finally gone and I actually like being outside again. This part of the year is my 2nd favorite time in Kansas (the first being in the spring). It's easy to love the prairie in October. So whenever I am questioning why I live on the west side of the Mississippi River when my entire family lives a thousand miles away, I try not to go into the funnel of misery but rather highlight how lovely here can be.
Now that summer is over, people start going outside again. This includes me. Here are some of the highlights of this prairie life.
1. Double date night: A couple of weekends ago Levent and I met my cousins, Heidi and Hayden, in Wichita for supper at the now laid to rest restaurant, Fork and Fennel. (The owner actually owned 3 restaurants in Wichita and turns out that was one too many. So this little Wichita gem is now closed. I am sad about it but there are a lot of good places to eat now in Wichita; so I am not as sad as I would've been a couple years ago). I really enjoy hanging out with my Kansas cousins. We also had donuts for dessert at Hurt's donuts, a local place known for their crazy donuts. I love local flavor especially when it's covered in rainbow sprinkles.
2. My donor relations (MCC fundraisers) colleagues from the various different regions came to Kansas the last week of September for meetings. This was mostly due to my convincing the team to come to here for these meetings. I mean, I really worked to sell them on the idea. And it worked out really really well. The last week in Sept was our first consistently lovely week. Plus, once our meetings end at 5pm, we get to spend time together "team building" (and by that I mostly mean eating really great food together). My favorite part of this whole gathering was showing my colleagues the things I love the most of about Kansas. That included...
a. the golden hour. (We all went to Maynard's house for a catered supper and it was amazing. Plus we got to tour the farm and (my favorite part) was petting his pack of dogs).
b. hidden gems of Wichita. I took them to WSU's campus to view the large collection of sculptures that are all over that campus. This was a new experience for me too since I had only ever been on WSU's campus for basketball games. But it was lovely, with a lot of interesting pieces.
c. Taking them to my favorite Wichita restaurants: Zaytun and Public at the Brickyard. Zaytun of course highlighted the amazing Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food available here and Public showing off Wichita's more hipster scene and old town character.
b. The Keeper of the Plains. Of course. This is one of the most iconic things about ICT.
We had a good time, especially during our actual team building experience: participating in an Escape Room. (You know those rooms where you pay to get locked into a space where you have to solve puzzles and beat the clock). We didn't win, but we got so close.
Another highlight for them was one I didn't anticipate; they really enjoyed being in our office because most of them are in tiny offices (or cubicles). That's one thing the prairie does not lack; space. Apparently that was reflected in our actual physical meeting space too.
3. Since October in Kansas can often be a time to ease into fall, there are still flowers everywhere. (In fact, I have some type of prairie flower in my garden that only blooms in the fall). It's beautiful. Since one of my few "work out" option these days is just walking, I really appreciate the natural beauty all around me.
I still struggle with Kansas. After all, I was not suppose to be here this long. But it is helpful to look around at the mysterious and sometimes harsh beauty of the prairie. (It also helps that Wichita is getting so cool. For real, Buzz feed just mentioned an area in Wichita the most hipster area in Kansas. It also so happens to be where my favorite coffee shop is).
Here is a good place to be. For now.