Saturday, January 23, 2016

Big City. Small Town.

The other day, while examining a patient, he mentioned the name of a specialist he had recently visited, to which I responded, "Oh yes! I know him really well. In fact, he's a friend of mine." The foreign born patient, most recently from New York, kind of laughed to himself, and in his lovely accent said, "Oh yes, I forget that everyone in this town seems to know one another."

Though, the connection in this instance, isn't surprising at all, as I was the referring doctor, the observation from the patient remains significant. And true. And what I love most about my town.

Yesterday, my second born, requested we go to the "burrito place with red sprite". He was talking about Ninfa's. A quite literal, hole in the wall, family owned and operated, tiny little, as authentic as they come Mexican food restaurant that serves warm, fresh, handmade, melt-in your mouth tortillas instead of the "traditional" chips and salsa. These are the "burritos" to which Curtis referred, and the "red Sprite"? Strawberry Fanta. Seeing as I have a 2 hour lunch break on Fridays, how could I resist the opportunity?

Eventually, I texted my mother and sister, and informed them of my lunch plans. To which, my sister replied, "Ha! Mom and I were just talking about that and she said, don't say anything to Erin until we know what time..." Thus. Had I not texted them, there is a really good chance we would have run into one another at this place anyway! Which, I forgot to mention, is no where near our neighborhood. I also forgot to mention, that the owners of this establishment had children who attended Matt's grade school. So, we kind of know them. Which is why we even know of the spot. Which I then introduced to my mother, who has a special affinity for tiny dives with amazing food.

 As we lunched, a few women walked in, and my mom remarked, "Oh how funny, I went to high school with a couple of those ladies." Small town is right! Then, not a moment later, who walks in? My mother-in-law. She was meeting these ladies for lunch. Curtis pops up and runs over to give his surprised Mimi a hug (and ask her to play on her phone.) What should have been a quick little lunch date with my 2nd child, turned into a family affair, and mini reunion of sorts. I left lunch all warm, and fuzzy, and full. Really full. Full of incredible food. Full of love for my family. Full of love for my city, and my life, and where I have landed.

Born and raised in Kansas City, I have lived in the same 6 mile radius for my entire life, with the exception of 5 years. I have moved exactly 6 times. Ever. Three of those instances occurred in those 5 years of college and post-grad work. I went away to Indiana for under grad, mostly because of swimming, but, I would have been fine staying near home. Though, I sometimes wonder if I am missing out on some beautiful part of life because of my extreme lack of wanderlust, I am mostly thankful that my family chose to establish themselves here. In Kansas City. Maybe, had I been born elsewhere, I wouldn't have such a content feeling about my city. Had I been born elsewhere, I definitely wouldn't dine out at the most seemingly obscure of places and run into 10 people that I know, let alone are my relatives.

I know the world is filled with all different types of people. To some, this small town living sounds appalling, and awful. I assume they feel trapped. Suffocated. Stymied. Missing some larger opportunity lurking for them, out there, in the great unknown. I am not sure what makes one full of adventure and the desire to uproot. To me, more possibilities and opportunities await me here, in my village full of people I know, who know me. It's who you know not what you know, right? Perhaps, there are 7 degrees of separation for humans throughout the WORLD, but in Kansas City, there are only 2 degrees.  Knowing that I can enjoy a meal, a moment, a conversation, face to face, with a friend or loved one, at nearly any time of any day? I love it. It makes me feel comfortable. Important. Supported. At ease. Loved. And home.

I will never claim to understand the meaning of life, yet, I can't help but think, living in the right place helps you discover it. I will never insist that Kansas City is the place for you. But, thank you, God/universe/random chance for dumping me here. In this wonderfully large city of opportunity, and this small town of comfort and familiarity.

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