Tonight was the deadline for submitting papers to the 2012 English Honor’s Society Academic Convention in New Orleans.
Like last year, I am submitting a Creative Non-Fiction piece – more specifically a Personal Essay. If you don’t know what a Personal Essay is, or if you have an involuntary gag reflex to the word essay, and assume it is something boring and terrible: C L I C K H E R E
Some of the best books I have ever read have been personal true-life stories. Some of my favorite anthologies are filled with Personal Essays. My current favorite Personal Essayist is Anne Fadiman. If you haven’t read her book Ex Libris – you should. It made my world brighter.
Most of the Personal Essays (hereafter referred to as “PE”) I have written have either been unknowingly (for it is my most natural writing style) or for a school assignment.
The PE I submitted for the Convention just mentioned was for a school assignment that required us to do something we had never done before and then write about the experience. It was not supposed to be a review of something we had done. It had to fit within the parameters of a PE.
At the time the assignment was given we had been living in Kansas City less than a year. We had ventured out some, but we didn’t really feel quite home yet. Someone in class threw out the idea of visiting local restaurants. You know, the kind that are not found anywhere else in the world except Kansas City. I knew immediately that was what I wanted to do, and through that experience I would begin to feel at home in Kansas City.
Since I am an aspiring writer, I am going to post (in three parts) my PE for you to read here. I welcome all comments, but reserve the right to not publish some of them. Haha.
I will end this introduction to my writing by simply saying this: I have never really posted my writing online in any way before…
“But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.“
– W.B. Yeats
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Dating Kansas City
Nearly one year ago my husband Chad and I said farewell to the historic, coastal city of Williamsburg,Virginia and made the 1200 mile transition
to the land-locked metropolis of Kansas City, Missouri. It was admittedly difficult to part ways with the sandy beaches and salty waves of the East Coast
that had been my faithful companions as I got lost in the pages of my latest book. Nevertheless, life was moving us forward, as it often does.
At twenty-seven years old, this would be the first time I had ever had the chance to put down some roots.
Like any first date, this starting out point can feel a little unnatural or awkward.
Chad and I had found ourselves in an unfamiliar city we eagerly wanted to acquaint ourselves with.
The natural instinct is to try and discover all there is to know until the blurred edges of the unknown become sharp and familiar.
The question quickly became, “Where do we begin?” I knew that Kansas City was renowned for its Jazz and Blues music, its succulent barbecue
and for having more fountains than any other city except Rome, Italy. But these are just the outside persona of Kansas City.
Any tourist can experience these things in one day and then go home. To know someone intimately is to know the unique, often seemingly insignificant
details that separate them from others; to know a place requires uncovering those same types of details, and I was determined to go deeper.
I’ve found that some of the more distinguishing characteristics about a new place can be discovered between the paper menus and within
the eclectic décor of local restaurants. The distinctive “local” flavor of a city is built upon the hard-working backs of the entrepreneurs that feed its sheep.
I decided to set out on a journey to acquaint myself with Kansas City– to discover just how unique this city tastes.
A first date with someone you are interested in is always accompanied by a heightened anticipation.
For my husband and me, our first “date” with Kansas City was no different as we visited the local restaurant: Crepes on the Square.
I felt like that girl getting ready for a blind date set up by her friends who didn’t know what to wear or what the evening would consist of.
It didn’t matter that we weren’t sure where to park or what the building looked like. This was to be our first encounter with a restaurant
that exclusively calls its home the Kansas City Metro.
The restaurant was in the historic district of Liberty (a suburb within the Kansas City Metro) and was nestled comfortably between
other small locally owned shops. We chose a private table on the upper level of the restaurant where we could easily see everything.
As I looked around, I saw several oversized comfy arm chairs and coffee tables perfectly suited for enjoying a cup of French-pressed coffee.
This feature alone made me feel at home.
The first thing that stood out to me besides the glorious scent of coffee meandering through the air was the décor.
The walls were gracefully lined with antique window frames hung by rust colored chains. The back half that was reserved for storage
was hidden by antique doors of different styles and colors hinged together to form a wall of doors.
It was a one-of-a-kind way to quarantine something as simple as storage and I absolutely loved it
For being a small, locally owned restaurant, Crepes on the Square had a lot to offer!
The special of the day was the Reuben Crepe, but a Reuben has never been my cup of tea, so I continued to investigate the menu.
At this point, Chad and I were just hungry enough that everything sounded delicious. I finally settled on the mysterious Monte Cristo crepe.
I had been torn between several crepes that sounded amazing and chose this particular one because of my love for the story “The Count of Monte Cristo.”
Although the story itself has nothing to do with the raspberry sauce that accompanies most dishes labeled “The Monte Cristo” – it still
inevitably played a role in my decision making process.
As it turns out, unfortunately, I should have nurtured a greater love for the works of Plato or Homer and
ordered the Greek crepe (my other consideration). The Monte Cristo was far from exciting, and the Greek crepe laughed scornfully
at my choice from the thin pages of the paper menu. Lesson learned – never choose your food based on an inclination towards certain
classical pieces of literature. Thankfully, my Wisconsin Cheddar soup was superb, including
the soft butter crackers sprinkled with rosemary that accompanied it.
(To be continued…)
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