There's this funny thing about Western Kansas. While many would think it is one of the most desolate places on earth, I see it as a diamond in the rough. How could this be, you ask? Calling it a diamond or even something so close to that precious seems odd to most, as it is mostly full of miles and miles of fields, open skies and cattle. Rarely will you see, if ever, a Starbucks, and the best form of entertainment found is the local swimming pool in the summer and high school ballgames during the other seasons. The description alone is practically boring enough. Sometimes though, you have to live in a place long enough to hate it, leave it long enough to miss it, and return to it to find you love it. That was the case for me, anyway, and my little chunk of Kansas.
Leaving for college was not enough. Being there, it was too close to home to even feel I left, even if I would be away for months at a time. The accessibility almost cheapened it. However, I only came to appreciate it after a two and a half month summer in South Africa. While there were the conveniences of modern life: electricity, stable homes, good food and even good relationships, I was not able to run away. Home was no longer attained via a short drive. It was three days at least, and that was by plane, not the mention the financial set-back it would cause. The fields were replaced by mountains and the ocean, making the skies seem smaller, still beautiful, but less and the cattle were replaced with fewer and foreign creatures. That sickness called home began to set-in, but only after the minor discomforts of being in a different culture began to fell major. It wasn't until about halfway through it all that I realized my illness.
While laying outside of our house, reading by the pool on some lonely Saturday, I glanced up at the sky. Above me, there was this green awning to protect the porch and its inhabitants from any unwanted UV rays. The sky was a bright, clear blue with slight streaks of clouds, and those were the only things in my sights. My hearing seemed to dampen the crashing waves in the background only blocks away, and for a moment I thought I heard a jet pass overhead. It was then that I was suddenly laying at the pool in my hometown in Kansas. My age had reduced by twelve years, and I was home. Needless to say, reading ceased while I waited for my eyes to dry.
By the end of the summer, Kansas felt new. The skies were bigger. The fields were brighter. The cattle, well, they were still cattle. Even so, it was like this new land that had always been mine. I was pleased and proud to call it home. My eyes were opened to a new beauty and all that took was a momentary loss.
All that goes to say, my hometown felt like a treasure trove, full of discarded buildings that are gold as far as photo locations go. When I noticed my friend was pregnant, I asked if she wouldn't mind letting me take some shots while I was home. Here's a little preview of her and her fella. Thanks Emily!