Super Jayhawk (super_jayhawk) wrote,
Super Jayhawk

A Return To The Land of the Jayhawks

Christmas is always a pretty involved time, this year even more so for me. A few days ago, I got on a plane (something I don't do much of since 2001) to revisit Kansas, the land of the Jayhawks. The place of my birth, and my childhood, my college days and most of my twenties. The place where I ran off for college and became Super Jayhawk. And the place I tearfully left 11 years ago to build a new life in California, and have only been back a few times since.

I was born, nearly forty years ago, on KU's campus. Well.. OK, the KU Med Center in Kansas City, Kansas, at least (still a part of KU's campus). My parents were both young KU students in the late 60's, in the middle of the protests and turmoil of the Vietnam era. I grew up on campus and touched my first computer there, at age 4. In the same year, my Dad took me to the Jayhawk Basketball games and I saw the Jayhawk mascot for the first time and my destiny was forged. I even left California to return there 13 years later and was there when the Jayhawks won it all with Larry Brown, Danny and the Miracles. About a year later, I became Super Jayhawk and have been so for nearly twenty years now.

So this Christmas we came out to visit my Grandparents in Overland Park, who are in their mid-eighties now. I am truly lucky to have three grandparents still alive, all in their mid-eighties, They have been pretty much the only constant in my life (other than KU) as my parents moved around every few years and yanked me in and out of schools, just when I was making friends and getting some sense of stability. But for more a third of a century now, there was always the Grandparents' house. First as a toddler barely three years old when they moved in, to visiting as an adolescent and later as a college student and a working poor twentysomething stiff in the ninetes just trying to make my way and get a career (without much success, for alas, it was Kansas).

It is odd and strange to be back, in the place where I spent nearly half my life, where so many memories come flooding in. Every object in the Grandparents' house is something I can remember when they first got it, and everything has a story that comes to me in an instant. Just driving around the area gives me both memories of seeing it as a child and as a college student and working graduate, and everything I come across while driving around is eerily familiar, in a way that feels strange since I have been back to the Bay Area for nearly a decade now. I can drive down the street and suddenly timewarp into 1976, 1987 and 1995 at the same time, and it's strange to see such places again.

The travel coming here was pretty grueling, as Christmas departures out of San Jose are not easy. We had an hour and a half flight delay, and missed our plane in Denver, despite us running 30 gates between flights to barely miss it. We had to play the standby lottery in Denver, and managed to get some seats on the next plane out, only to have a two-hour flight delay as the wings kept icing up from the driving snow. Landing at KCI, we had to do the usual run all the way from the Missouri side to Overland Park that took about an hour, and I was so fried from sleep deprivation that all I could do was pass out in the evening. The next day we had to drive through driving sleet and snow, something I haven't done in 12 years. It came down hard yesterday, several inches of sleet and then powder. Scared the hell out of me, as being in California for the last decade has gotten me out of practice on driving on such stuff. We had a 4WD Jeep Grand Cherokee, and I took it slow and easy, so we did OK, but still, I would have rather had dry pavement any day. Two people died in the area after a 30-car pileup on the highway, which is why that sort of crap on the roads gives me the wllies.

We've spent time since then visiting with relatives and catching up, mostly. Both grandparents are old and have had their own set of health scares in the last few years, and have markedly changed since I was last here. We stayed in, especially when the snow came down hard. Shopping today was a pain, but the malls weren't as crowded as they usually are in the Bay Area. It's still a trip to go to a mall or another public place and see at least half the people wearing Jayhawk coats and sweaters, like I do all the time. I wonder if Superman managed to return to Krypton, whether he would have been thrown off by all the people wearing "S" logos on their chests. ;)

It's been friggin cold, too. Got down to 14 last night, and I realized I had to get the case of water that I had left in the rental car out, for otherwise it might freeze. Not used to thinking in such terms these days. I've had to wear two layers of spandex and thermals under my clothes since I got into town! I forgot how to use an ice scraper, haven't had to use one of those in years. That, and spending 5-10 minutes just putting on gloves, coat, undercoat, hat, earmuffs, boots, and fleece neckguard on before going outside. Had to kick off the chunks of ice built up in the wheel wellsa ater warming up the car for 15 minutes. I've forgotten what this is all like spending over a decade in the Bay Area.

So tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and the last-ditch effort to get presents, right before we open them up on Christmas Eve. I hope everyone has a great holiday, and I hope to be back in town in a few more days.

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