You’re Not In Kansas Anymore

Dear nine year-old Mary,
You don’t yet know what adventures this places holds. Look beyond the frost that clings to the windows of the new and unfamiliar house, the hills that will hibernate under feet of snow for six months out of the year. Of course you don’t know it now – this is, after all your fourth home in nine years – but you’ll be here awhile; make the most of it. Enjoy the way the snow flakes get caught in your eyelashes. Embrace the short, intense summers and the bite of the sharp spring winds.
You’ll grow up here, in Wausau, Wi. But, there’s no rush. No need to be anxious. No need to count nervously to yourself, to impose a sense of urgency on the world. Please, little Mary, take your time.
This small town in northern Wisconsin will grow on you. Year by year it will become a part of you, so stop resisting. It will lead you half way around the world, not once, but many times. It will provide you with teachers, friends, opportunities and challenges.
It is here that you’ll first love to read. It is here that you’ll first love to cook. It is here that you’ll first love to write. It is here that you’ll love to run. It is here that you’ll grow up too fast, too anxious; it is here you’ll return weak and scared, but always ready to try again. It must seem remote to you now, but you’ll leave this place for wonderful adventures; the kind that leave you with memories smelling of exotic spices and leather; but you’ll always return, more mature and more appreciative.
You’ll change here. You’ll become an explore. You’ll become afraid. You’ll become a cook, but the food won’t be edible, not to you. You’ll cry here. You’ll find solace here when you feel you’ve failed. You see, my dear little Mary, the brutal Wisconsin winters will teach you to persevere; they will make you strong.
So, my innocent, math-loving girl, get out there and explore, because you’re not in Kansas anymore.

Love always,

Mary at 20

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