Anyway, it was better than your average bozo small town, at least to our liking. And that's where the car broke down -- the Travel All -- worst car I ever owned, but at least it broke down in the right place -- could have broke down in Oklahoma and thank God we got out of there.
We camped by the Smoky Hill River. As I said, we were newly weds and we had gotten out of Oklahoma. We cooked our dinner over a fire and after that she waded into the river to wash the dishes in the stream. She lost her wedding ring doing that. It just slipped off. It was a simple band, no big dollar loss, but I took it as a bad sign -- not like it was her fault or anything like that, but just bad luck.
I was 30 years old that summer and we had gotten married, expecting to have children and get jobs and buy a house and do all that regular kind of stuff. No more hippie stuff. No communes, no fantasies, no hitchhiking, no riding freight trains, no making shelters out of plastic sheets, no organic wonder gardens. None of that. Not like a rejection or a feeling that we had done anything wrong. No, it was just we were finished. Had gotten ourselves certified with a Ph.D. in advanced Hippie Studies and it was time for whatever came next, which for us was a big dose of normal.
It didn't help at all that I had decided to become a writer three weeks before the car broke down. Not a good career choice if I was looking for normal. I wish somebody had talked to me about that. I wished my Dad was still alive. He would have liked my new wife a lot. A pretty one, he might have said. And settling down to start a family, yes, he would have liked that a lot, and said so, and backed me up on things, even if I wanted to be a writer -- he might have cautioned my about the uncertainty of that income.
I'm thinking all this many years later, but not at that time. All I knew is that I had turned 30 and gotten married and I needed to become something, so all I could figure out was to be a writer. I bought a portable manual typewriter while we lived in the alley apartment in back of the Swedish Bakery and I began to write -- probably ten words a day at most. It didn't flow.
This is a short story, so I will wrap it up. Susan became pregnant and this baby didn't want to be born in Kansas so we left after a few months. We moved to Chicago and I got another job, but I will tell that some other time.
Kansas, to this day, remains unappreciated.
What Prompted This Story. A young woman I know in Bellingham, Washington, talked about the incredibly high price of real estate in her area -- she said you just couldn't buy a home unless you have family money. That's true on the West Coast, the sky high prices. But you're paying for the view and good looks are superficial. If you want value, you might consider Omaha, or Wichita, or St. Louis, places like that, less trendy, but you can have your own place.