I like the color when it comes to decorating my house.
But to pull the color on over my head reminds me of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. It was a big deal to despise Nebraska during football season until they departed the Big 12.
Red reminds me of the KU Jayhawks. It's still a big deal to loathe the Jayhawks during every, single sports season.
Red reminds of the Wathena Wildcats. My high school's nemesis. As a school, the Wathena Wildcats have long been consolidated with another small northeast Kansas town. But I still detest them and their red Wildcats.
So putting on red to cheer for our town and our team - the Ellsworth Bearcats - pains me.
But a red, $4, clearance rack t-shirt caught my eye the other day. A self-to-self pep talk ensued.
Okay, for $4 I can give it a try. It'll be okay.
Not so long ago, I would have walked away from that $4 t-shirt. Not so long ago, I still wasn't convinced I wanted to put down roots in the middle of Kansas.
Brent and I moved to Ellsworth after college because it fit our career choices. He took the job as the Agriculture Extension Agent, and I tried my hand at economic development work. We like to say we took the only two jobs open in town.
We saw the move as a good start to our life together. And beyond getting married and getting out of our lousy rentals, we didn't have much of a plan.
A few years passed. We were baptized into the working world - realizing how much we still had to learn. We got married. Got out of our lousy rentals. Bought a home and brought home our first baby girl. And we still didn't have a plan.
But sitting in the nursery, rocking my baby girl, I realized we needed a plan.
Maybe it was the hormones. Maybe it was because it seemed like every other new momma had their own momma nearby to help. Maybe it was my dad's encouragement to come home and help revive my flailing hometown. Maybe it was because my brother had just moved home.
Whatever it was, I knew I wanted my family to be closer. I wanted what I had growing up: Grandma and Grandpa at my ball games and 4H events, my aunts and uncles at birthday parties, an extended family close enough to call on when I needed help.
But the man I married, didn't feel the same pull. He liked our compromise of living in the middle.
The battle of location lingered. The "plan" never materialized. Angst and tension settled in.
Three more babies came along. Noah started school as part of the largest Kindergarten class to hit the district in years. We lived in a neighborhood full of young families. We had a network of friends, neighbors and co-workers that supported us whenever we asked for help. We witnessed a rural revival of sorts - investments in jobs and new businesses unlike anything the town had seen in recent history. We had opportunities for the kids to play soccer, and t-ball and take ballet lessons - without driving out of town. We had everything we ever wanted for ourselves and for our young family - except having our own families nearby.
In the summer of 2012, the lack of a plan finally caught up with us.
Britta had just been born. The county fair was days away from starting. Brent's dad - a lifelong southwest Kansas farmer - was battling some health issues, facing retirement from the work he loved, and was asking for Brent's help. And "that perfect little place in the country" went on the market.
I guess you could say it was time for a plan.
There was a lot of talking. A lot of tears. (Mine, of course.) A lot of time spent analyzing the negatives and the positives of every option.
In the end, we chose us. We chose our family. We chose the middle. The compromise. That perfect little place in the country.
And I think we got it right. In fact, I know we got it right. I know it by the way I've watched the kids play and run on the farm. I know it by the way I feel happier, settled, invested. I know it because less than a year after our move, Brent had the opportunity to make a fantastic career change that let him have a home office and offer his expertise to a wider range of Kansas farmers. I know it because we convinced my sister, Mary, to move here, too. (Well, a charming cowboy maybe had something to do with that one.) Still, I know we got it right.
I wore that red t-shirt the other day. It wasn't quite the fit I was hoping for, but for $4, I'll make it work. Maybe, just maybe, I can get comfortable wearing the color red.
The fam - from inside the barn shortly after our move to the farm.