Larry is short for Lawrence. Lawrence is my hometown. While I tell most people that I'm from Kansas City (don't ask) I am proud to have been born in Lawrence. It is a beautiful city of about 80,000 people in the Kaw River Valley in eastern Kansas. The University of Kansas sits prominently atop Mount Oread in the middle of this bustling community. It is simply the best place to be if you're going to be in Kansas.
I haven't been back to my hometown for nearly a year and a half. By my reckoning this is the longest stretch in my life that I haven't touched foot in Lawrence. It's an itch that really needs to be scratched and for a variety of reasons. But I'm caught between a rock and a hard place.
I wanted to go home for my sister Karen. My oldest sister Dianne held a surprise birthday party for her this evening. I won't say which one it is out of respect for her but let's just say it's a big one, one worth celebrating. It breaks my heart that I'm not there.
As you get older, you realize more and more how important family is. My world has always been dominated by women. Besides my mother Frances, my three sisters, Dianne, Karen and Mary have all had an impact on my lives in ways so positive that I shudder to think where I would be without them. And then there's the Czarina, my rock. Her trip home to Riga this month has only reinforced the importance of family. But that's fodder for another post tomorrow.
But back to Karen. She's smart, caring, compassionate, and wildly fun. My best memories are when she was in graduate school and I was finishing up high school. I can remember hoisting a beer or two with her and then going with a bunch of friends to the Friday midnight soft core porno films they used to show at the Hillcrest Theatres in Lawrence. I think cousin Nancy would take part in these escapades. The audience would be in a general uproar during these movies with the crowd drunk or stoned and Karen would shout at the screen, things that I don't think I will repeat here. Let's just say it would ruin her image that she so carefully crafted of the prim and proper school teacher.
But the best time was just three years ago or so when Karen and her wonderful husband Keith spent the week with the Czarina and me in Fort Myers. I was so nervous about disappointing her and much to my joy it turned into a wonderful time that was all about family. I long for the next reunion with my sisters. Happy Birthday Karen!