“Marshall, get your ass up here!”

Those were the first words my uncle spoke to me in thirteen years.  That was earlier this week, as my dad called me to help make arrangements for my travel.  Yesterday morning, with my mom’s help and TJ there to see me off, I rented my first rental car.  A flyspeck little Fiat that TJ instantly wanted to drive.

European engineering.  It’s very much Her Thing.

We signed the paperwork, loaded the car, and I was off.  The scarceness of the cabin freaked me out – blind-spots everywhere – but the ride was smooth and it had enough get-up that I felt safe.

I allowed myself to feel like I was in a spy movie: the travel, the arrangements, the going alone.  I don’t go on a lot of trips, much less by myself – and TJ always drives.  Not today, as I crammed road food down my gullet in a steady stream and left rainy Kansas City behind for woodlands and open plains.

Roadkill and a gentle cool day.   Buzzards, a taunting doe standing in the road, and a misguided GPS.   Medieval castles of brown brick and great fields of wind turbines – a new feature to the landscape, sudden and outlandishly huge.   One proposed plan is to keep building them in northwest Iowa and then connect them to Chicago.  I wish Kansas would make it happen for us, as well.

When I got to Ida Grove my aunt greeted me on a new-to-me wooden porch with beautiful red stain.  I soon found out the whole place was renovated – a wall removed, a new spacious den where my dad’s been sleeping, and a screened-in porch.  I was impressed that they’d done it all by hand!

We talked for hours and hours.  My dad showed up before long, and my aunt chided, “You came back too soon! I have to share him now.”

Today, the family that’s coming in gets together to see Gary.  I’d better get a little sleep before then.

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