No Place Like Home
By Lorry Myers
I walked into the bar wearing my favorite hoodie, the one that spells “Missouri” when it’s zipped. My husband and I had toiled the day away helping our daughters move; now we were tired and ready to relax.
This was the place to be.
Much to my surprise, my daughters became roommates again when they both landed jobs in the Kansas City area. That meant someone had to move Hilary from St. Louis and Mariah from Springfield into a split-level house in an up-and-coming Kansas town. Of all the places in that area to live, these college-educated girls chose Kansas.
Apparently, they’re still searching for a brain.
We’d had a long day moving mattresses and bins of breakables, and now we were ready to have a burger before calling it a day. As our entourage stepped into the neighborhood bar, a hush spread through the dinner crowd, and it appeared like every head turned our way. I had no idea why all eyes were on us. I only knew one thing for sure: we were a long way from home.
It was an awkward few minutes waiting for the hostess to seat us. The bar sported big screen TVs, and most of the patrons sported blue shirts that proclaimed their allegiance to Kansas. Then, there was me.
I am a fifth generation Missourian and not afraid to flaunt. My ancestors plucked their roots out of Ireland and Germany looking for a sunnier place to grow. From Ellis Island, they wandered into Ohio or down to Kentucky, a restless bunch of vagabonds searching for their home. They were equestrians and auctioneers, farmers and failures, stumbling into Missouri with nothing but their name. They stayed.
Missouri is my home. It says so on my sweatshirt.
The food finally arrived cold, which matched the stares from the blue shirts that filled the restaurant. We took the hint and didn’t linger long, and when I paid our ticket, the cashier leaned in and gave me some free advice.
“You probably shouldn’t wear that in here.”
I know that Kansas and Missouri are rivals, but I wasn’t boasting a team logo or taunting with a tiger tail hanging out of my trunk. I was just wearing my black and gold, which apparently doesn’t coordinate well with Kansas blue.
I wasn’t in Missouri anymore.
The next day, my daughter called every person she knew in Kansas City and invited them to the neighborhood bar around the corner from her new house. It was pre-game when we started trickling in, and soon there were so many of us we had to drag tables and chairs from the other room. We were a rowdy pep squad of college and high school friends and family from every corner of the state, each wearing a piece of clothing that said it all. Go Missouri!
At first, it was the same old, cold shoulder, but then the cashier from the night before recognized me. We locked eyes, and she nodded her head acknowledging what she was seeing and why. That cashier knew without being told that her free advice had a price, and we were there to pay it.
I come from a long line of stubborn Missourians who didn’t raise me to leave Kansas with my tiger tail between my legs. Instead, my family took a bad night and turned it into a good day. We spent a lot of money, made new friends, and were even invited back. Most of all, our Show-Me shirts showed Kansas something they’d obviously forgotten: there’s no place like home.