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goin’ north

June 13, 2012

Sean was ready to leave for Canada at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, even though he’d been up most of

the night celebrating.  It was a low-key departure as he said goodbye to his dad and younger

brother, but I was struck by the importance and symbolism of it all.


Here we have a fine young man, fresh from his high school graduation — the closest thing

U.S. culture has to a rite of passage — going off on his first journey as an adult.  When I

started planning this visit last winter, I had wanted to drive rather than fly.  That would

give Sean and me hour after hour to talk.  I could pass on the wisdom I had gathered so

painfully and painstakingly over my life.


But budget and time constraints ruled that out.  Plus, I realized that sharing all my pro-

found thoughts might not even get us to the county line.  The gaining of wisdom is based

on one’s own experiences.  When mygrandparents tried to pass on their sagaciousness

to me, I usually thought “yeah, right” or “bullshit”.


I think that’s why it’s sometimes difficult to watch someone you love grow up.  They have

to make the same or similar foolish mistakes you did.


So Sean and I chatted idly and intermittently until we reached Kansas City, where we had an

intense bonding event: a meal at Gates Bar-B-Q.  Savvy gastronomes have known since 1946

that Gates is the go-to place for incomparable ribs. Here’s Sean preparing for the feast.

There was barely anything for me left by the time I set the camera down.


We had several hours before we had to be at the airport, so we drove through the heart of the

city.  I used to live in K.C.  I showed Sean many of its finer features, like Country Club Plaza

the world’s first mall, opened in 1923.  We also drove through nearby Westport, the city’s

live entertainment center.  It’s anchored by Kelly’s, an Irish pub in the oldest building in

town.  You don’t want to be anywhere else on St. Patrick’s Day, aside from Gates.


We went to the top of the Liberty Memorial and drove past adjacent Crown Center and Union

Station, site of the Kansas City Massacre.  In 1933, colleagues of prison escapee/returnee

Frank Nash tried to free him when he got off a train.  Nash, three policemen and an FBI agent

were killed in a gunfight.


Things have settled down there.  Today, the building offers limited Amtrak service and houses

a museum, planetarium, shops and restaurants.


We arrived at the airport mid-afternoon.  Sean had to take a different flight to Seattle, an

hour before mine.  Due to a long layover in Salt Lake City, though, he got there shortly

before I did.  I was concerned about him changing planes, because he had only flown

once before, ten years ago.  And I didn’t have a cell phone to call his.


But adulthood always starts with inadequate preparation.  I saw him off as I held my breath,

not exhaling until he was out of sight.  After a slight delay that nearly caused me to lose my

seat at my changeover in Minneapolis, I too headed west.  This is one of my last sights at the

K.C. airport:


Sean was calmly waiting for me in the Emerald City, a most welcome sight.  We walked a

mile to our motel in the cool rainy evening.  We were able to get a solid night’s sleep and

a bracing breakfast before Nathan’s flight came in.


The three of us lit out for the border, stopping only for gas and Popeye’s chicken.  Despite

a slight hitch at the border crossing, we arrived at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal just in

time to load.  We had a two-hour sea cruise to relax before a 90-minute drive to the Quadra



My sweetie and a bear awaited us at home.

  1. wade permalink
    June 14, 2012 7:40 pm

    you didn’t show him the site of the Home for Wayward Men Who Fault the Battle for Sexual Liberation and Lost?

    • June 15, 2012 9:34 am

      That place we shared on Charlotte Street?

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