Riding in a taxi into downtown Kansas City on Wednesday night, coming across the bridge and into the blaze of buildings and streetlights, I had an incredible sense of vertiginous deja vu. The magic of a city at night is something that always makes my breath catch in my chest and my heart skip a beat. I feel as if I am dropping off the edge of the known world and being caught by a fantasy rising up to meet me.
And yet for all its unreality, the city felt strangely familiar. I don't think I have ever been to Kansas City before -- at least I can't remember a visit in my adult life. Part of it, I'm sure, is that the city is much like other cities in whose downtowns I've roamed during similar conventions. The bank buildings with the food courts on the first floors, the revitalized dining and entertainment district, the park opposite the convention center, the mix of older hotels and those rebranded as major chains.
But there is a sense of scale here that resonates with me. I feel I am vibrating on the same frequency as this city. It's big but not overwhelming or impersonal. It hosts and nourishes major national events and franchises, yet the local theaters and troupes seem just as splashy, presented and promoted with just as much pride. There's southern charm and urban energy with a sense of tradition and elegance, as if they've got nothing to prove.
I hadn't thought much about where I was going before I landed; it was just another meeting in just another city. But now I'm glad to be here, and already plotting when I can come back.