Last night on my way from Hutchinson — where I had the wondrous pleasure of visiting Bill Sheldon’s creative writing class and reading at the local arts center to people who listened deeply — I was enthralled with the first spring-like night and the opportunity to drive in the deep dark. I unrolled the window and let the night air pour over me, the stars so bright and detailed above, the highway long and straight. Just as I rounded a bend and could make out the lights of Wichita, where I would be staying with one of my closest friends, “The Wichita Lineman” came on.
Okay, so it was a schmaltzy synchronicity, but decades immediately lined up with the road I was on. I remembered listening to Glen Campbell sing this song in 1969 as I hid the transistor radio under the covers with me and prayed for Cousin Brucie to play my favorites. For whatever reason, this was one of them. Wichita as well as the rest of Kansas seemed as exotic as I could imagine, akin to Bali or the Russian Steppes in my imagination. I also was a sucker for any song that combined loneliness, longing, wide distances and great metaphors about electrical and relational lines…..still am actually.
The song would end, the real Wichita came into fuller view — over 40 years after I first fathomed such a place — and I followed the line of where I was to go to where I would arrive.