When I was a young, impressionable girl, growing up in a relatively isolated farming community in north central Kansas, my only lifelines out to the real world were television and magazines and KOMA, a rock radio station in Oklahoma. I first heard Jim Morrison and the Doors, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix on my "modern" clock radio, a Christmas gift. You could only hear rock music on KOMA, and if I remember correctly, only at night. Rock music was not yet commonplace. My mother once shouted up the stairs for me to come watch a girl singing like a man, on Ed Sullivan. I knew it could only be Janis Joplin. My mother was mildly scandalized and largely amazed. I do not think Mom ever developed an appreciation for Janis Joplin.
My girlfriend brought an edition of the Los Angeles Free Press to me as a gift. Her family had been on vacation to the West Coast and she thought of me. I was thrilled. I read and re-read every single word, every advertisement, and every classified ad. It was psychedelic, subversive, strange and beautiful. The written words vibrated in my hands. People were thinking differently, living differently. They had a new world vision and they were changing it, but I was stuck in Backwater, Kansas.
My stepfather made it a point to watch Walter Cronkite every evening before dinner. We watched the Vietnam War together as a family. I distinctly recall a big argument over the war when the troops were shown pulling back from a location. The villagers were desperately trying to climb into the helicopters, knowing what was in store for them after the Americans were gone. The soldiers were throwing the Vietnamese people away from the helicopters, even smashing their hands as they tried desperately to hold on. I was horrified. My stepfather saw it in one single frame of reference - the soldiers were surviving. I thought we were fighting the war FOR the Vietnamese people. I vocalized my horror and dissent, but nothing I said or felt was valid to my stepfather. It was an argument that was repeated countless times every evening across the entire nation.
Into this wide expanse of white, Christian, conservative, hard working American agricultural communities, rock bands came from far and wide to Salina, Kansas. It seemed totally amazing to me at the time. Now I understand it was an easy stop on the way to Denver, or Kansas City, or Dallas for those traveling bands. I saw the Beach Boys at the height of their career in Salina, Kansas. I saw Herman's Hermits, all the way from England. I can not recall every band any more. I was always amazed when the real world arrived within one hundred miles of my house. It was as if Salina was some sort of cosmic crossroads where Real Life was seeping into Kansas.
Now I know I did not have to be on the West Coast for life to come to me. It found me because life finds us all, easily, even if we live in the middle of the great quiet interior of America. I have traveled, but I never had to leave Kansas to get what my soul needed. I found real Indians in Kansas, and have gone in with them in prayer lodges. I have been blessed with the prayers and the Pipe and the Feathers of holy men and medicine women, in Kansas. My children have been blessed and prayed and drummed by these good Indian people. I became a Reiki healer, right here in Kansas.
I do not know why I chafed so under my parents' love and concern. I set myself against them early on. What had served them so well, I saw as a yoke of drudgery and unenlightenment. Nothing they did suited me. Most of my entire generation seemed to have been born with the same dissatisfaction.
I stayed in Kansas and raised my children here. I do not know how it is possible but they have turned out well, despite who raised them. My daughter called me today. She bought tickets to the upcoming Bob Dylan concert in Salina, Kansas, for me. Even though she does not like Bob Dylan and has no interest in any of his music, she is going with me. Bob Dylan is an acquired taste. It will be a personal sacrifice for her. What an amazing, loving gift.
It is such a heartfelt gesture on my daughter's part that I hate to place any negativity on it in any way, but the fact that Bob Dylan is coming to Salina, Kansas might be some sort of omen. It might be some circle completing itself, some event heralding a significant life change for me. It might cause some sort of rip in the time space continuum if Bob Dylan and I are in Salina at the same time. Perhaps the Mother Ship is coming?
Beam me up, Bob.