Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Adopted Hometown

As you've no doubt surmised by this point, we're doing a bit of a theme thing here during the month of November. This time around, we're all writing about where we live.

Me? I live in Kansas City, and it's a pretty cool time to be doing that sort of thing.

Our baseball team won the World Series. The website Money Under 30 recently ranked us 10th on a list of cities for young college graduates looking for a decent place to live and make some good money. If you ask me about the nine cities ahead of us? Boooooooooooooring.

Kansas City is where it’s at.

I’m not a native, you understand. Though I’ve now lived here just about half my life, I’m still a transplant. If you’d asked me thirty years ago where I’d be living as I plunge headlong toward my 50th birthday, I’d likely have responded with something like one of the coasts, or Hawaii. I might even have said that I’d probably end up somewhere near the city of my birth, Tampa, Florida.

How does one go from the Sunshine State to the Show Me State? An extended tour in the military coupled with simple fate and circumstances saw to it that I ended up here. To be honest, I arrived thinking I’d do my two or three year assignment before shipping off to some other, more interesting locale. Then, I opted to leave the service for civilian life, and Kansas City became my home. That was twenty-odd years ago, now.

I love living here.

It took me a while to figure that out, of course. Going from being able to swim outside almost year-round and not even own a winter coat required some getting used to, after all. However, Kansas City found a number of ways to help me cope with the transition. For one thing, there’s a lot to do, here. Museums, parks, art galleries, and theaters out the wazoo. Did you know that we have the only nationally recognized museum dedicated to the First World War? It’s located right across the street from my favorite building in the entire city, Union Station.

For another thing, we throw a mean party, as some of you probably saw after the Kansas City Royals won the World Series a few weeks ago. The Power & Light District has transformed a once derelict downtown into a thriving entertainment hot spot, and the Country Club Plaza boasts some of the finest restaurants and upscale shopping opportunities, if that’s your thing. In addition to the top-tier entertainment venue that is the Sprint Center, we also have the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which is a truly stunning feat of architecture that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Inside that beautiful building we have the world-class Kansas City Symphony, which performs everything from classical concerts to providing live musical accompaniment to the recent Star Trek films.

You may have heard that we have some decent barbecue. It’s true. Believe the hype. Beyond that, we also have a tremendous number of restaurants, from elegant dining to the best grub a short order cook can toss at you on a paper plate. If you leave this town hungry, it’s your own fault. Seriously.

The city and its various landmarks serve as inspiration for a number of my stories. I just recently finished a science fiction tale that’s set in 1960s KC. I once wrote a story set in Union Station, while sitting in Union Station. I wrote the whole thing longhand while eating at one of the cafes.

It doesn’t hurt that we have a thriving creator community here. Writers, artists, photographers, musicians...you name it, somebody’s making it here, somewhere. Attending local and regional conventions has linked me with a cabal of wonderful creative types, particularly in the writing fields. Best-selling authors like Gillian Flynn and Jim Butcher have connections to our fair town, and some of the hottest talent working in comics today calls the Kansas City area home.

We even have Hallmark Cards headquartered here, for crying out loud. How cool is that?

And yet, even after all of that, to this day I still cheer on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Oh sure, I’ll root for the Chiefs, but the Bucs have always been my team.

Do I miss Florida? Absolutely. I still have family there, and there are times when I think maybe I should have moved back, but Kansas City is where I hang my hat.

I do so loving here.


Charles Gramlich said...

Been to Kansas city. Pretty nice place

Liane Spicer said...

Wow. This is not the KC of my imagination. Good to know I'm wrong. Sounds like a really good place for writer types.