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A Thousand Miles from Kansas


I was recently asked why I titled my blog “A Thousand Miles from Kansas”. Easy. Dwight Yoakam and South Korea. I’m sure that seems like a strange combination and spawns an even bigger question: How do Dwight and South Korea relate to Kansas?

South Korea

A map of South Korea. Daegu is in the southeast region with Busan on the coast below Daegu. These cities can also be spelled with a “T” and “P” :  Taegu and Pusan.

Back in the Nineties, I lived and taught English in Daegu, South Korea. Before I made the journey overseas, I taught at a middle school in Topeka, Kansas, which was the first real teaching job of my career.  At that middle school, I met Ed. Ed was an experienced teacher and mentor. We had a lot in common and became good friends. We had the same taste in music, shared similar ideology in regard to teaching, and we spent a lot of time together. Ed tried to help me improve my golf game, taught me that cribbage and gin tonics go hand-in-hand, and inspired me to teach overseas by regaling me with tales of his adventures as an expat educator!  And after a year of teaching together, that is what Ed did; headed back to South Korea to teach English. And a year after that, I decided to do the same and before I knew it, I was in Taegu, South Korea teaching English. Ed lived near Busan, but made the trip up to Daegu during my first month there to help me settle in to my new surroundings. It was great having a good friend in this unfamiliar place.

During one of my trips to Pusan, Ed and I were sitting in his apartment playing cribbage, drinking gin, and listening to music. He asked me if I liked Dwight Yoakam and I replied that I liked some of his music, most notably his first hit single “Guitars, Cadillacs”. He then put Dwight’s latest release in the CD player. The album was his 1993 release This Time and the only song I knew was the hit single “Fast As You”. This time (no pun

DY 1

This Time by Dwight Yoakam

intended), however, the second track is what caught my attention. “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” infected my consciousness. The song began to haunt me and suddenly the gin I was drinking didn’t taste so bitter and the pain of missing home now had an anthem. It personified all of my feelings about being far from home and the song has been on my “must have when I travel playlist” since that day. It was also my “gateway” song into exploring and becoming a big fan of Dwight Yoakam. I’ve been to several of his concerts. My first Dwight show was in San Antonio, Texas at the John T. Floore Country Store. Simply amazing!

The day I decided to started my “A Thousand Miles from Kansas” blog, I was sitting at my computer thinking “To blog or not to blog” with my iTunes library randomly playing tunes. Dwight’s “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” began and I started thinking about home and how I felt displaced…thousands of miles away from my Midwestern, Kansas roots. There was a time when I all I wanted to do was leave Kansas and explore the globe. I’ve been to many places in this world and spent the last twenty plus years away, but lately it seems there is nowhere I would rather be than back home in Kansas. I’m sure if I take off my rose colored glasses filtered with nostalgia that I might not feel that strong pull and longing for home, but for now, I think I’ll leave them on. I am a displaced Kansan thousands of miles from home. And for now, I will remain.

© 2019 Greg Vessar. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Categories: Memoir, Music, Travel, WritingTags: , , ,

9 comments

  1. Very nice piece. And thanks for introducing me to Dwight Yoakam. I like this song.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent song. Dwight Yoakam is one of my favorites and perfect for those “rockabily” moods. He is also an exceptional guitar player.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a complete album…I can still recall where I first heard it, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A good read….thanks

    Like

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