In 2007, I hosted a farewell party for my sister’s family, who were moving from Pennsylvania to Kansas. I decided to send out invitations listing The Top 10 Things We Love About Kansas. The problem was, after

1) It’s equally near to both the east and west coast
2) Not nearly as many tornadoes as you think
3) Carry On My Wayward Son and Dust in the Wind … I ran out of ideas!

My sister, unfortunately, felt the same way – at first. But happily, she has long since settled in and is guest blogging for me today, sharing the best thing about Kansas:

Hello there, my name is Laurie Kremer. My sister asked me months ago if I would write a guest piece, and I decided to share my experience living in Kansas

I’ve lived in the Midwest for a little over three years. At first I compared everything to the suburb of Philadelphia in which I used to live. I grouched about the distance to the mall and the lack of convenience stores. Our first week in Kansas, I ventured out with my GPS to a Pizza Hut a couple towns away. As we opened the door, an elderly gentleman on his way out, dressed in blue jean overalls and wearing a baseball cap claiming “SHIT HAPPENS,” leaned down, looked my 8 year old son in the eye and said “There ain’t no more pizza in there!”

Clutching my children to me, I rushed passed him and into the restaurant where I proceeded to sit down and fight off a panic attack.

I laugh at that memory now, for that truly was the exception and not the rule. In the suburbs of Kansas City, we really know our neighbors and enjoy a sense of community. People are just nice! There’s no other way to explain it.

Ever been to the Philadelphia Airport? It’s huge, difficult to navigate, and full of people running — stressed and sweaty — from one hanger to the next trying to catch a plane. Just a few months after moving to Kansas, I flew home alone to attend a cousin’s wedding. My husband took the day off from his new job to drive me to the Kansas City Airport. As we arrived, we had one of those classic moments that all couples have at some point in their relationship where they say simultaneously, “I thought you put the suitcase in the car!”

In my complete panic, I irrationally blamed forgetting the suitcase on the fact that he made us move to Kansas. Determined to make me happy — or perhaps desperate to get me out of town — Keith told me to go to my gate. He would drive home and be back with my suitcase before the plane took off.

I was sure he was wrong, but I did as he asked. The Kansas City Airport is so small that from my gate I could see out into the street where I watched for my husband and counted the minutes until the flight boarded. He did not make it in time.

As I boarded, I explained the situation to the flight attendant, and she did the most unbelievable thing. She asked what kind of car my husband drove and then went outside and stood on the curb. My husband pulled up a few minutes later to find a bubbly flight attendant waving him down.

So what’s it like to live in the Midwest? It’s really NICE! It will never replace home and family and the lifelong friendships we built through the years, but we’ve found a happiness and level of contentment that I’m not sure I thought we could have when we moved away from Pennsylvania.

Last story for you. A little over a year ago, our daughter contracted pneumonia following her tonsillectomy, and we ended up at the local children’s hospital for the weekend. My husband drove home to get some clothes for us, and when he pulled up to the house, he found one neighbor moving the front lawn and another neighbor mowing the back yard. Pretty nice, huh?