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Kansas City MO 64131

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OFF KILTER

Cindy Maddera

I had made it through the toll booth and almost to that McDonalds that straddles the interstate when I realized it. My hand went subconsciously to my collar bone and I could feel the missing pieces. I had left all of my jewelry at my mother’s house. My tiny elephant earrings that I had bought myself for my fortieth birthday, my metal J bracelet and my silver chain holding mine and Chris’s wedding rings. Of course it’s the wedding rings that I miss the most. This is what sent me into a panic as I sent a text to Mom. Then she called me and I frantically told her where to find them as I sat in the McDonalds parking lot next to the interstate, semi trucks blazing through so loudly that I couldn’t hear Mom on the other end of the line. I hung up the phone and then she sent me a text telling me that she had found them and they were packaged up for shipping. I should get them Wednesday.

I spent the rest of my long drive home, fretting over the rings and worrying about the state of things in Kansas City. Eleven inches of snow fell on the city while I was away. I was coming home to snow and possibly a house still without power. The power went out on Michael sometime Saturday afternoon. He’d heard the crack of several tree limbs falling as well as a loud boom as a transformer blew. He’d been alternating between staying wrapped up in blankets on the couch to sitting in his truck with the engine running, charging his phone and listening to the radio. I started seeing a light dusting of snow when I was about a hundred miles from Kansas City. That dusting just progressively got deeper and deeper the closer I got to the city. Occasionally there would be a car abandoned in the median, snow piled high on the roof. The roads were clear. That’s one thing this city knows how to do. Main roads are cleared pretty quickly around here. It’s the small neighborhood streets you have to worry about. We live on a snow route, so it’s never been a problem except when the snow plows push all the street snow in front of the driveway.

I pulled my car into the end of the driveway that Michael had managed to clear. Then I hauled my suitcase out of the car and started making my way up to the house, stepping into the footprints that Michael had already made. He was sitting in is truck and because his windshield was still covered in snow, he hadn’t seen me arrive. He looked up in surprise and then made his way out of the truck and around to greet me. I walked into a cold, dark house with a desperate Josephine jumping up and down. I set my bags down and then picked her up so she could lick my face and I could bury my face into her warm fur. Then I set her down and got to work. Michael needed help shoveling the rest of the drive so he could get his truck out in the morning. We had things we needed to do while we still had some daylight like make lunches (mostly salads) and I unpacked my bags and put things away. Somewhere during all of this I lost all feeling in my toes and we decided to find a restaurant where we could sit and linger over a hot meal with hot drinks. We lingered over dinner and talked with the couple in the booth next to us who were also without power before heading back to our cold dark house.

I slept warm enough, wearing two layers of everything and a dog tucked into one side and cat on the other. We are still playing the waiting game as are many people. There were three of us women in the gym locker room this morning all in the same boat. My supervisor was in Hawaii at a conference all last week and came home to thirty degrees and no power. We have all shared our power outage stories of past and present. There’s a certain down trodden look about all of us and I keep refreshing the outage map for the power company in hopes of any new developments. We say things like “maybe when we get home” or “at least by Tuesday”. We’ll see. Everything is slightly off. Laundry is in an in between state of things with some things still damp in the dryer and some things stopped in the middle of a wash. Meal plans have been tossed out the window for the week and we’re hoping the contents of our refrigerator stay cool enough. The chickens need food. The dog is not into going outside to use the bathroom. She does it, but she runs right back inside.

The thing is, this snow is probably the most beautiful snow fall I’ve ever seen. There have been so many times I wanted to pull over and take pictures on my drive home, but there were not safe places to pull off the highway. It is also brutally cold. But it looks like something made up by Hollywood outside. It is achingly beautiful.