Ode to Highway 54

I ended last Thursday with three delicious drinks, two good friends and one perfect drive down my favorite highway.

As I cruised westward under the 1 a.m. stars, cheeks still flushed from my 11 p.m. glass of wine, I welcomed the familiar sense of peace and comfort that often encompasses me on a drive down Highway 54. 

Oh, Kellogg. Your lanes are filled with memories.

First pushing the pedal to 60 mph as a trepid 16 year old.
Pushing it much further as a constantly-late-for-work 18 year old.
Cursing at the drivers around me in the midst of what I thought to be colossal traffic jams (this was pre-East Coast life).
Blasting songs of adventure and high tension on 4 a.m. drives for donuts, tacos, night photography shoots.

I realized, then, that the qualities I've come to love about Kellogg Avenue are the same qualities I admire in my closest friends.

  • She's straightforward. From the western side of the state all the way to the Missouri border, she's virtually a straight line. No games, no silly twists. She keeps life simple and plans uncomplicated.
  • She's there to comfort. Nothing quite as aggravating as a road trip hampered by traffic. Her black asphalt sea, empty at night under a wide starry sky, is the closest a highway can get to hugging those who drive upon it.
  • She's there to challenge. Almost always under construction, she teaches patience. Spanning from the empty western plains to the nightlife of downtown, from the grime of the ghetto to the glitz of the east side, she encourages adventure.
  • She inspires. Her walls have been sculpted into works of art. She shelters skate parks and train tracks. And best of all, she is the namesake of Wichita's best music festival.

Underneath Highway 54 on a humid summer night.

So, dear Kellogg, as I bid you goodbye for another long stretch of months, I'll smile at the memories you've housed and the lessons you've taught.

And I might even try to be a bit more like you.

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