Monday, July 27, 2009

The Plaza's Enticing Aura

Kansas City has the appeal of most American cities but lacks the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s laid back, the people are friendly and you feel like you can enjoy yourself, whether you’re shopping, sipping a cup of coffee or eating a nice dinner. Unlike the “I’ll take your money and you can go” attitude served in many major California cities, you don’t feel rushed in and out of your every stop.

The sun was out, but temperatures were unusually comfortable for this time of year. When we first arrived, it was the time of day, just before the sun goes down, when everything quiets down and becomes still. That is, all except for the slight breeze blowing, warm on the skin. As the night went on, the breeze grew with intensity and then died back down again. The first person that walked by on the street, greeted me with a genuine “How are you doing?” and made me feel as though I had a personal welcome to the city; this welcome was sincere, not superficial or self-consumed.

We made our ascent up the outdoor staircase that led to the entrance of McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant. We were seated on the patio, under an umbrella that provided shade earlier in the day, before the sun hid behind the tall buildings, carved with detail, exuding character absent in modern architecture.

The waiter, well informed of the items on the menu, brought a platter of delicately prepared Bruchetta to our table as tech tests were being performed on a sound system on the street below. Before our entrees were served, a man and a younger woman, I’m guessing father and daughter, began performing hit blues, jazz and other easy listening songs. Their soothing voices echoed up to where we were seated, enhancing the evening's delight.

Temperatures cooled to a slight chill as we finished our delicious meals. We made our way back down to the walkways where the volume of the music increased with every stride. The streets were lined with old lampposts that lit our way and served as a hanger where bright clusters of flowers hung like drying laundry on a clothesline.

The rest of the evening was spent window-shopping, as many of the shops were already closed. Artificial lighting displayed the merchandise of the stores that set current trends in clothes and furnishings as if they were belongings of royalty. Childlike anticipation swelled inside as we imagined ourselves dressed in the latest fashions and made note of stores worth revisiting the following day. Dresses, purses, jewelry and shoes lured me inside upon my return, where I justified my unnecessary purchases as “something to remember Kansas City by.” Souvenirs, if you will.

Clouds began to form and rain started to fall just as we were leaving the city. It was as if the weather was holding out for our stay there, and led me to further justify my impulse buys, as a “gift from God that was meant to be.”

My bare arms were chilled in the Kansas City air,
As the summer winds tousled my long blonde hair.
Music echoed down the dark street below
Lit by dim lights; their faint orange glow.
Bright colored flowers hung from lampposts.
And shops were filled with fashionable clothes.
Window-shoppers, pointed out their favorite styles
On the square called the Plaza, filled with friendly smiles.
The sidewalks were made of brick cobblestone
Where I ended my visit with a leisurely roam
Down the streets of the city modeled after 1920s Spain
And we started back home, as it began to rain.

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