It turns out that sometimes Wichita can be green!
I know … right? Who knew?
I spent 11 years living in Wichita, and if there was one color I would use to describe that city, green wouldn’t be it. Brown. Tan. Beige. Coffee. Taupe. Burnt Umber. Desert sand. Dull chestnut. Dull dirt color. Dead grass amber. Dried out ground covered in dust. Dark brown. Light brown. Another version of brown that isn’t called Brown. Yeah … of all the colors of the rainbow, when I think of Wichita – Green is not what I think of. In that short short period of time in early June when the rains are feeding plants & letting things grown – the city turns green. Then by a little later in early June, it gets insanely hot and everything dies … including all hope. A green Wichita, with all it’s trees full and gardens in bloom is kinda awesome; or as Jimmy Kimmel show once said, it’s Wichitawesome!
This week, I spent a few days in my old home on a business trip. This isn’t the first time I visited Wichita since I left in 2012 – but it was my first visit as part of my current job, and it’s been about two years since the last time I rolled through town. Helped by a little longer visit than normal, and that I was more in support than leading a trip, I was able to take it generally easy on this visit and have a look around.
I’m actually getting pretty good at this whole “visiting a place where you used to live” thing – and this appears to become the year of such things. The well publicized return to Anchorage a couple months ago happened around the time when this visit hit the radar. Plus i will have a need to return to Boston … and even Milwaukee is on radar for a family thing. As it happens, I usually come into this trips with a small agenda of things I want to hit again. Usually it’s food related … like had to do Hog Wild (don’t be late, they close at 8) … but it is also driving around and seeing what has changed. Wichita, for the most part, hadn’t changed much since 2012. Sure, there were some changes, but in 6 years you sometimes expect an overhaul of things. The biggest seemed to be that whoever owns my old house let it overgrow pretty good – and now it’s nestled in a jungle on Crestway. There’s nothing wrong with that though.
Maybe what was most noticeable was something that was kinda funny. Wichita has been looking for an identity (in part because a late night talk show once made fun of them for being ‘Wichitawesome’). During this visit I kept noticing a flag around certain buildings with swatches of red & white blocked with a blue symbol. It seemed like right under my consciousness everywhere I looked in the town. I felt it was either some new unifying symbol for some organization … or the logo for a new donut stand. By the last night I had to ask what that flag was … turns out Wichita has it’s own flag. So … that’s new.
Honestly, what wasn’t new and what was probably the best part of the trip, is that I can still meet up with some great friends. Some I talk to pretty regularly, and catching up in person is almost as easy as if I never left. This time, though, I got to spend time with people I haven’t seen since I lived there. One in particular (yeah, I am calling you out K-Ram) .. didn’t even know I moved out of Alaska. On Wednesday night in particular, we spent hours catching up, telling stories we told a hundred times, and doing our best not to do something that would create a new story. Sure the talk now turned more to things like what it’s like getting old, but it wasn’t so different than the past either. Like — if there is such a thing that is ‘Wichitawesome’ it is just that I can come back and catch-up and laugh like no years passed at all.
So, yeah, all that really changed is that everything is green; but that’s what Wichitawesome is about sometimes.
Footnote: if you are counting at home, this is Bear Feed Post #497 … the big milestone is coming soon.