Upon this great and momentous occasion that now is justifies this glorious piece of aesthetic writing, I shall commence with great pleasure this note. It was at a time approximately two-thirds through the dark, dreary semester that I embarked on a journey of the soul. Unlike previous journeys which avoided the residence of my passport as much as the valley girls which it produced, this time I embarked cross-country to the great and hilly state of Missouri. Much intrepidity marked my first impressions of this land for I had never before traveled within the limits of this land mass and I feared, as all men do, that perhaps this new experience would be one that is altogether undesirable and thus unworthy of being repeated. Yes, for me this is an expedition into the miry countryside of new experiences. Would it not be for my strong bias against the home of my passport I would have been less afeared as I was across the west of Europe and in many of my travels in the eastern portion of Asia. Notwithstanding all other trivial matters, I began the expedition an exact week before the advent of thanksgiving. Though the advent itself was a lighthearted time, ‘twas indeed a difficult to be of cheer given that my companion in travels, a man of relative stature whose bright blue eyes and pastel yellow hair rival Hitler’s archetypal erian man, had recently received news of his dearest friends looming death. So this evening we departed with heavy hearts, minds transcendent of mundane matters, and perhaps most notably a strong desire to begin our journey across two states into Missouri.
We embarked far later in the evening than was necessary at one hour to midnight. Although perhaps not a logical decision by any means, the late embarkation was an escape from normalcy; no longer were we tied to our regular abode—no, we were emancipated men escaping from the grips of university academia and embracing on a new adventure in the East. Conversations both meaningful and humorous held by the streaking lights of fellow oncoming night-goers characterized our late-night escape. Though by three-hours past midnight we both had a mind to get some sleep in order to better prepare for the next day’s travels. Seeing as we were people of meager funds and in desperate need thereof, we agreed on pulling off on a gravel road and sleeping under the stars. Though I have consistently been informed from a myriad of sources on Kansas’ lack of anything good and holy in its baron plains, this is where I first found an inconsistency; for the stars in Kansas that night were beyond what I had seen before. From one flat horizon to the next, the stars graced their flickering colors in such a way as to create a bubble of illumination that spanned horizontally of our position and rose clear up to the expanses of heaven above. Laying on one’s back and looking directly skyward, one could easily be forgiven for thinking that he was somehow transported into heaven itself. This and a brisk Northerly wind combined to create a beautiful and mystical ambiance under which to make our stead.
The following day began with a jolt as me and my fellow traveler were woken up to the sound of a lone vehicle speeding its way past our exposed abode. Each crunch of gravel under its tires was distinctly accounted for as the oncoming vehicle got closer and louder until the noise reached its climax just a few feet from our heads. We rose that morning cursing the early schedule of farmers but also to amazement at the flatness of the area upon which we stood. As a carpet, the green land rolled out in all directions around us speckled only by sparse trees and occasional dots of cattle clear until the union of earth and sky at the horizon. We resumed our journey across the green plains after a swig of water from our jug and the hesitant consumption of soggy, left over sandwiches—though we did not set out with high standards; we were in Kansas after all. Fortunately, Kansas did not cease to surprise us past that first night.
Kansas can mostly be described as a desolate wasteland—though not desolate in vegetation per say, but rather in sight worthy aspects; lest you consider cattle and endless fields a subject of interest. Note that I said Kansas consisted mostly of wasteland; this implies that it was not all wasteland and thus must contain some elements of interest or variety. Me and my companion Daniel discovered both of these anomalous points of interest in Kansas; another misconception dashed—that Kansas is void of all things interesting and worthwhile. In a dazed muse created by a combination of the endless droning of the engine and the constant blare of high pitched rap tunes, I spotted something unusual on the flat planes of Kansas—something not flat. This of course contradicted all previous reports of Kansas and beckoned to be explored in a more conclusive manner—Daniel agreed wholeheartedly and bolstered the idea by stating that he too had been contemplating a similar investigation. So in the middle of brown fields under a deep blue sky we exited the highway to discover the story behind this non-flat phenomenon. The terrain being as it was, we had not problem navigating to the structure, which, as we drew nearer began to take the shape of a five story high European-style cathedral. Upon closer inspection we saw that the cathedral, fashioned in true European style, composed of flying buttresses, ornate stain-glass windows, and even a bell tower and steeple. In Kansas this five-story behemoth had no contextual justification in the least. Perhaps in Europe among ancient brick-paved streets, hairy women, the German language, and a history of Catholicism, this cathedral would have been common place, but in Kansas? Not to mention that this large new-looking cathedral graced an all but abandoned, tumble-weed plagued Kansas town with a sanctuary that could accommodate triple the town’s inhabitance. So there we stood in front of the cathedral doors at the edge of an abandoned town, tumble-weed and brown leaves made eddies around our ankles in the desolate wind as we stretched our necks back looking up to the bell tower. As expected the doors were open and the true detail of the building was again seen on the innards of it what with the usual icons of this saint this and that, Mary and the baby Jesus, the alter, the art, the confession boxes; nothing too unusual—save for its location and size. After a complete and thorough inspection of the sanctuary and its graveyard (which was very nondescript and disappointingly offered no epitaphs and trite information of the bereaved) Daniel and I decided it was high time to continue our journey through this boring, yet occasionally curious state.