In spite of living here for seven years, everyone still thinks I am a Californian. To be fair, I do as well. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to go “home” in June for an unexpected trip to see friends and family, I could not wait to get out of Hillsboro.
I got off the plane and smiled as I saw all of the amazing diversity. Then I quickly stepped up the pace as I acknowledged the frustration in the colorful faces and different languages, because I was not moving fast enough. It was Los Angeles, and people had places to go. I hurried off to the restroom where I waited in a long and inpatient line.
I struck up conversation with those waiting. Oops. Not in Kansas anymore! Most people acted as if I was about to mug them as they pulled their belongings closer and became more interested in their electronic devices.
One of my best friends picked me up at the curb. You just do that at LAX. Parking and going in to wait is more complicated than it is worth. There is too much traffic to plan to get there, find a spot and walk to the terminal in time. If you even manage to pull that all off, parking is extremely expensive. It’s just easier for everyone if you pull up, and grab your loved one while all the cars behind you honk at you to get out of the way. Hugs and hellos have to wait.
During my stay, I noticed even more differences. A friend and her husband struggle to put their two little boys through baseball recreational sports in their town in Southern California. Meanwhile, all four of my kids participate in multiple sports and activities for less cost than my Southern California friend has for just one sport for two kids. She has to drive her two boys to different locations in a large city, but all of our activities are within a mile of where I live so even if they can’t get a ride, they can walk or ride a bike. While my friend has no one to help her if there is a problem with a coach, parent, other player, or anything else, I can call Director Doug Sisk because he gave me his cell number.
We all know how different the housing markets are between here and the West Coast. I had never thought about the history of our homes. My friend knew a little since she had gotten her house in a short sale from a friend of a friend. But that is a rare exception out there.
When my family moved to Hillsboro, not only was my house referred to as the previous owner’s house for a good five years, I met people who had lived there over the years. I could actually give you a list of the tenants of that house. My favorite stories come from Glenn Goertz who grew up two houses down from there and knew the three sisters whose father built the 1910 home. Not only did he share many stories, he and his wife told us about secret compartments built into the house.
There were many aspects of my trip that I enjoyed. While there are people here who can’t be replaced, I found my heart filled there by people that I love. But I smiled big when I came out of the passenger only section at the Wichita airport and there stood a friend.
She had parked and come in because that is what friends from Hillsboro do. As we chatted the whole way home, I looked out the window and saw stars that I had not seen the whole time due to city lights.
I got hit by awful humidity as soon as we left the airport, but I also smelled green earth and dirt. It smelled pretty great. It even felt a little like home.