1. People you have never met know everything about you.
You left Kansas a while ago, but your family didn’t. Now their new friends, neighbors, colleagues and that one guy who now sits next to them at church knows every last detail about the life and times of “the girl who moved away.”
2. Your dating life has become a group effort.
Twenty-something and single? THIRTY-SOMETHING AND SINGLE? Do not fret, there are people here that can fix that kind of problem. Rest assured, they will not rest until someone, anyone, puts a ring on that finger.
3. Your vocabulary has become kid-friendly in a hurry.
“Doggone it,” “Shoot,” “I’ll be darned,” those have become your catchphrases because grandma and pastor would not approve of anything more colorful.
4. Everyone wants to feed you.
Feeling sad? A casserole will fix that. Have something to celebrate? Homemade desserts all around. Just had an operation? You can’t even eat yet but your freezer is stocked with meals to last for months. It doesn’t matter what the occasion is, food is the answer.
5. You’re starting to notice how many houses are “divided.”
Team rivalries are real, very real. Real enough to be the root of family arguments and the cause of bruised egos and hurt feelings. Occasionally a Wildcat will crossbreed with a Jayhawk because after all, we’re in Kansas where love trumps all. But you best believe there will be a stone in the front yard or a bumper sticker on the minivan that announces, this is “a house divided.”
6. You keep forgetting that beer and wine requires an extra stop.
Unless it’s 3.2% ABV, you won’t find it in a grocery or convenience store. Good news is the liquor store is probably no more than a couple doors down.
7. You’re seeing sky everywhere.
Even “in town” it’s impossible not to notice the twinkling blanket that is the night sky. Don’t even get me started on those hazy morning glow sunrises or those streaky pink and purple sunsets.
8. Eerie skies mean: go outside.
Speaking of the sky, sometimes it turns a weird green-gray color. Animals quiet down and the air gets still and everything around you starts to look and feel like a scene in a horror movie right before something really bad happens. That’s when you go outside with your iced tea and binoculars because, if there’s a funnel cloud, you want to see it first.
9. You can’t leave home without running into someone you know.
At the grocery store, at the bar, at the park, people from your past are everywhere. Your third-grade teacher, your old dental hygienist, your mailman. Note: a nod and a wave are not acceptable on their own. These meetings require at least five minutes of conversation and the promise to meet up for coffee.
10. It’s so hot and humid you can’t breathe.
Because corn sweat is a thing.
11. Or you’re freezing your hiney off and it’s not safe to go outside.
Because open fields plus heavy snowfall plus relentless wind equals snow blindness.
12. Help is always right around the corner.
If your car breaks down, you need a ride to the airport or you’re short a cup of sugar, there is someone very nearby who wants nothing more than to help fix the problem. In a state full of people trying to be the nicest, some will go so far to create a problem just to find the solution.
13. All the smells bring on all the feels.
Smoked meat, campfires, fresh cut grass… The smells of Kansas are the smells of your childhood, and you love it. Then the wind shifts and you get a whiff of cow manure. Thanks, Kansas.