They say that Kansas was named after the Kansa Native American tribe who first roamed her prairies. Their name, loosely translated, meant “people of the wind.”
When I learned that, my whole world suddenly made so much more sense. I grew up in a two-story farmhouse encased by cedar trees and red dirt roads, underneath a vast blue sky that seemingly stretched on for miles. When day faded to night, I would sometimes crawl onto the roof of my house and gaze at the star sprinkled sky above, the silence of the prairie broken only by the occasional howl of a coyote.
As much as I loved Kansas, though, I never quite felt like I fit in with the boys who dreamed of growing up to manage their own farms, or the girls who dreamed of growing up to marry them. Something was always tugging my heart beyond the Midwest—beyond the safe confines of the two-stoplight town I called home and onto new horizons and adventures and souls.
I grew up wanting to be a storyteller, so after my freshman year of college I packed everything I owned into my 1997 Crown Victoria and headed to film school in California. And a few months after graduation I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where I worked on music videos and wrote stories about country music stars.
Sometimes, when I told new friends about all the places I’d lived before my 24th birthday—the simple and hearty Midwest, the carefree and creative West Coast, the charming and historic South—they would look at me incredulously. “I could never do that!” they would say. “I could never move to a place where I didn’t know anyone.”
At first, their comments worried me. Was I turning into a nomad? Was I incapable of committing to a place? Was my desire for adventure something that needed to be curtailed?
But when I heard the story behind Kansas’ name, I understood. People of the wind. Gypsy souls eager to experience lands yet unseen and adventures yet unknown. I was a person of the wind, born and bred. I couldn’t just stay in one place forever, not when the world was so big and God was so good and life was such a gift.
My great-great grandmother came to Kansas in the 1800s, a pioneer seeking a new home and a new life. I’ve always related to her, a pioneer girl who loves the world far too much to spend her entire life in just one pocket of it. I love experiencing new places because it reminds me that we are all more alike than we are different, and that there is still far more good than bad, even now, and that we all have stories worth telling.
I live in California now, and it feels like home. I love the feeling of being settled in a place, of having a home base to come back to after weekends filled with adventure, of knowing this is exactly where I am supposed to be right now. And I love remembering all the places I've been before, and knowing that my heart will always belong to a thousand different places.
I am a person of the wind, and so I was meant to be.