Arman's stuff
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Kansas

(Wed Apr 22 13:22:13 2009)

I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the past lately...

I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the past lately, I suppose because I've been feeling a bit out of place. Something in my life needs tweaking, but I need to figure out what, first.

Many people look to their childhood for answers, even going so far as pretending they are a child again to help cope with... whatever. Stupidity, probably. I know my childhood is gone, and that no amount of pretending I'm six will help things as they are now. Now that I'm an adult, I need "grown-up" answers. I don't say that because I had a rotten childhood - far from it, I had a great childhood, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Apart from a few minor blips, I wouldn't change it, either. However, I have realized that there are some "constants" from my childhood that just aren't here any more. These constants aren't even things that I thought would never change - they are things that I never thought about, because I simply couldn't fathom them being any different, even in a hypothetical sense. In my mind, a place without those things did not exist on Earth.

A few months ago, I was watching a jet flying overhead, and noticed the contrail behind it vanished after about a second. Maybe you don't think that is very odd, but when I was growing up, contrails tended to stick around. After more observation, I realized that there were no contrails in the sky - not one! I'm going up to Kansas in a few weeks, so I'm going to watch to see if I can find any contrails while I'm up there. There might have been some shift in technology that eliminated contrails; I guess I'll find out. Contrails are only a small part of the picture, though; Texas, at least where I am, has no clouds. Sure, maybe a few wispy cirrus clouds, but nothing like I'm used to. Even story-books have big, puffy clouds. Every book I read talked about the clouds being big, poofy, and resembling rabbits and other creatures and objects.

Another I noticed is that Texas doesn't have songbirds. I'm used to hearing Bobwhites, Meadowlarks, Chickadees, wrens, thrushes, and all manner of other songbirds. Here? Nothing, apart from starlings and crows. Oddly enough, all those birds except Chickadees are native to here, too; I wonder why I've never seen or heard them?

Yet another thing I've noticed is the wind. Kansas is right in the middle of where the "easterlies" meet the "westerlies;" it's also fairly flat. Those together make for an average wind speed of around 12-14 MPH. East Texas has an average wind speed of 9-10 MPH. The trees, hills, and buildings of Texas also push the air above where someone on the ground could feel it - which means that when a Texan says it was a very windy day, I say it suddenly feels natural.

There are other, simpler things - average temperature (it may be similar in summer, but in winter it differs by more than 20 degrees), humidity (the average in Longview is 74.1%, the average in Salina is 62%), and of course, the horizon. In the open space where I grew up, you could find the horizon between 0 and 15 degrees above visual "flat." Here in Texas, the horizon is between 30 and 60 degrees above "flat," if you're lucky. Partially because of that, the sunsets here are terrible, and when the sun is gone, so is the light. In Kansas, the light sticks around for hours afterwards. Also, because of population densities and bad lighting choices, the stars are all but invisible here.

Each of those things aren't much alone, but together, they make this place seem almost alien. No clouds? No stars? No bird songs, apart from almost painful screeching? In other words, the "normal" things I was used to growing up are gone. Not only am I an adult, with adult responsibilities, I have also lost the sights and sounds of my youth.

I miss Kansas. I miss the birds, the wind, the snow; I miss the stars and the still-fading light at 9PM.
I guess I miss my childhood, but not for the "being a child" part. I miss my childhood because of the comforting familiarity of it...

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This blag is tagged: Kansas, Texas, Thoughts, All