Instead of the nightly routine of putting the baby to bed, watching the same TV shows with the wife, and fulfilling my life’s unspoken demand for a harmonious relationship between obligation and self-fulfillment, I did something different. On this warm Spring night I got in the car and started to drive out of the city. Out of the orange cones and construction, out of the thousands of men and women racing home. Out of the routine.
I wasn’t running away or making some great escape. No, it was much less interesting than that. I was simply headed for Hutchinson, KS where a work conference was being held. After all, I love being with my family. I love nothing more. But as a new dad locked into the obligation side of the above mentioned yin and yang, this felt good.
I drove west 2 hours into the Kansas flint hills.
On a two lane highway I rolled the windows down and smelled the sweet country air and smiled. I slowed through little country towns with craft fair signs and that day’s abandoned veggie stands. Trucks on gravel roads formed long dust clouds in the distance that crossed the land between farms. This was a different life style that during my drive I imagined, and envied.
In front of me a newer black Ford Thunderbird convertible had been forging the path ahead into the sunset. There was a woman behind the wheel wearing a brown fedora style hat tapping her fingers to the beat of some country song I could hear playing from the car. Her and I were about the only ones on the road for over an hour besides the occasional semi that swooshed by.
The flint hills really are special. As flat and boring as Kansas is portrayed, this land of rolling green hills spotted with cows, oil rigs, and grain silos holds some real beauty. I contemplated stopping on the side of the road to take some pictures but the countryside beckoned me in deeper so I continue driving.
After a while the sun finally set and the land turned dark. I pulled into the hotel in Hutchinson for the night and as I got out of the car to check in I smiled thinking about my drive one last time. Sometimes it’s important to, even if by accident or obligation, leave what you know behind and head just past the fringe of your routine. It’s there that you can rediscover the forgotten beauty of a world outside your own.