My resolve not to return to Missouri for a visit started to waver months ago as I considered a retrospective (final?) tour of the turf where my family roots are sunk deep. I recalled how grounded I felt in 2019 when I last wandered the hills and homesteads my paternal family line has called home for at least seven generations. But even as I began to plan a date for the trip, I became increasingly conscious of the very squirrely things Missourians were doing, and my second thoughts about not making the trip began to have second thoughts of their own, and the visit I had begun to look forward to became the visit I thought less and less about.
Now comes the latest affront to sense and civility in a report by the Washington Post. “The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives,” the paper reported today, “rejected a proposal Wednesday that would have banned children from being able to openly carry firearms on public land without adult supervision.”
The hills and homesteads where I believed I might renew a deep connection with my younger forgotten self have been unmasked as what they’ve been all along and that I had forgotten they always are (or was too oblivious to notice): symbols of something I’ll find only within my interior landscape. The Missourian I once considered myself is no longer, and perhaps he never really was. While that might conceivably be experienced as a loss, it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like a surprisingly healthy disillusionment, a deeper freedom, a portal into a landscape for which I have been hungering all along.