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fall colors

Kansas City at dusk, seen from the sky, is a darker shade of muted green. Ag. land with patches of dark, mirrored water, a snaking river cuts through the landscape with soft, sandy edges, winding and fluid like the hair of Mucha's women. Trees shift towards fall in clusters of rust and gold. A blue line hugs the horizon like a lens, with a bright full moon hovering in the pink-purple divide between day and night. White farmhouses with dark roofs edged by trees, with open green fields wrapped around them.

Across the aisle on the plane, a gentleman is casually wearing a full head and face covering of silver sequins and a white faux fur coat. We are flying Spirit economy from Los Angeles to Missouri.

The middle child of our family started college this year and made it sound like he was in a remote land of soybeans and cornfields with nothing around for miles. Though it appears he is also surrounded by immense beauty — colonial architecture dating back to the early 1800s, old brick buildings with gable roofs and dark asphalt shingles, high ceilings, embossed tin ceiling tiles, long windows with Victorian details.

The town is a mix of 3 colleges and historical center of shops, theaters, galleries and restaurants, toasty cafes and excellent thrift stores. The frat houses along Greek Row span blocks of student mansions, brick & Roman columns, manicured lawns and flower gardens, emblazoned with banners or illuminated signs reading, "Alpha Pi, Delta Chi, etc.," at which Chase snuffs, "I'm not paying $12k a semester for friends." Needless to say, the student body is well resourced.

Nearby, a thriving art community and bustling college life exist alongside the throb of cold, darkening skies turning toward winter. I’m wondering how this super buff, Cali/Hawaii boy with rosy cheeks and cherubic curls, in workout sweats and high tops, is going to walk 25 minutes to class when it gets really cold.

So, we’re feasting on grits, fried green tomatoes, eggs over-easy, biscuits & gravy, collard greens, chicken fried steak (for him), potatoes & sourdough, and hot tea lattes, stockpiling warm clothes and fat stores for the coming season. And warming in this little cottage off-campus, built in 1862 with a windowed sun porch, little fireplaces, the softest blankets and fluffy pillows, and windows full of light, catching up on work and staving off sniffles and visiting for a minute.

Now I have to ask, am I the kind of person who can rock a “Mizzou Tigers mom” school sweatshirt when I was angling for a gap year? And if so, full-length or midriff? Because what I ended up buying instead, while my luggage is still somewhere in Florence or Barcelona, is a beautifully preserved mint green 1950s shift dress and white gloves with tiny champagne-colored pearls along the wrist, which I can’t really wear here. And I’m walking around layered in two pairs of pants (sweats over jeans), a shirt, a sweater, a borrowed puff jacket, my whole head and face wrapped in a scarf. It's 42 degrees, and I am clearly not accustomed to seasons, yet also unwilling to stay indoors.


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