My husband spent the first 22 years of his life in Pennsylvania, but now he’s one of us. He learned how to navigate the city I grew up in better than me (admittedly not a high benchmark) many years ago. He learned to love the Royals through the very worst seasons in the team’s history. He even figured out the right things to order at the best barbecue restaurants in town. But these are not how I knew — officially and explicitly — that he was one of us. It happened with his exasperated sigh and quick swipe of the “ignore” switch on his phone.
“It’s my parents and there was a tornado somewhere in the Midwest yesterday. I’m not answering that.”
I understood and, in a way, I was proud of him. He ignored that call with all the frustration and animus of a true Kansas Citian, tired of explaining where we are and unsympathetic to those who don’t find that information necessary.
It has been said that Kansas Citians suffer from an inferiority complex, frustrated with having our city dismissed as unimportant “flyover country,” unworthy of even having its geographical location remembered. While the concern over how outsiders perceive our city seems trivial, isn’t it, at least in the cases of our friends and family, justifiable?
I know that others who have moved here from out-of-state can relate to this frustration. Here is just a small list of what we wish our close friends and family would know about life in Kansas City:
1. Where we are.
Look at a map! I know your check-in phone calls to see if we were hit by a tornado are well-intentioned, but when a simple glance at a map can answer the question for you, do that. Aside from the annoyance of having to once again explain where we do and do not live, it is a verifiable fact that no one wants to receive a phone call in 2019.
2. Kansas City is a metropolitan area comprised of many cities, both in Kansas and Missouri.
No one who lives in Olathe should be traveling across the country and answering the question, “Where are you from?” with “Kansas.” While factual, it’s both vague and misleading. Likewise, no one who travels to visit relatives in Overland Park should be saying, “I’m going to Kansas.” No, you’re going to Kansas City, not just Kansas. Kansas City is a specific area with its own distinctive lifestyle and culture, which lumping it in with an entire state ignores.
3. On that note, Kansas City is not two cities in one.
My most hated question from out-of-towners has always been, “Now do you live in Kansas City, Kansas or Kansas City, Missouri?” No one from Kansas City is from one or the other. Even when I specifically lived in Kansas City, MO, I could not answer as if this question made any sense.
4. Grilling and barbecuing are not the same thing.
If it didn’t take you half a day, you haven’t barbecued. You grilled, Aunt Janice!
5. It’s not actually flat.
When I was a freshman in college, my mom bought a t-shirt for my Philadelphian roommate to illustrate this point. “Not EVERYTHING is flat in Kansas!” it said, right across the chest of the fitted babydoll shirt. Because it’s true! And because my mom doesn’t have an eye for double entendres. I sincerely hope she still has that shirt.
6. It’s an amazing place to live.
We don’t have mountains or an ocean, but we take vacations. And frankly, some of us visit mountains and oceans more frequently than those who live near them. There is so much to do here on a daily basis, and it’s all so accessible. From professional sports to gorgeous theaters and renowned museums, Kansas City is an incredible place to live and visit. You should visit, far more often, and then maybe you’d be able to find us on a map!