Green Lady, Broken Arrow, and Wylie

Day 2.

Sunday is brunch day. We weren’t planning on continuing the tradition while on our trip, but Julie suggested an incredible brunch buffet at The Eldridge on Mass. St. It was delicious, quality food that balanced our consumption between BBQ joints. After brunch we wandered around Mass. St. It was a beautiful but windy day in Lawrence. Eventually we headed back to Julie’s to regroup. We both met up with friends and later headed to Arthur Bryant’s for a brisket sandwich. We put on an old favorite as we hit downtown, “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey” The Beatle’s cover. We thought Arthur Bryant’s was closed, but a man ushered us in, much to the cook’s chagrin, and said we had 3 minutes until closing. The sandwich was gigantic. Before he wrapped it, he poured BBQ sauce over it. It pooled out the sides in a thick puddle the way blood does in the movies. We didn’t want to hold up the workers, so we took the monster sandwich outside. There was nowhere to eat it, and it was after dark in Kansas City. We considered sitting in the car, but remembering the pooling sauce deterred us. We felt the best option was to eat on the hood of the car. The wind kept whipping our hair in our faces and sauce-covered fingers. That did not stop us. It was euphoria for our taste buds. We felt vindicated in our decision to have accessible wipes in the car. It was a mess. We cleaned ourselves up and headed to Green Lady Lounge.

Driving through the historic jazz district, 18th and Vine, on a Sunday night can only be described as a ghost town. Old joints looked empty and closed down. There was no one on the streets, no neon lights, no music. Green Lady looked like nothing from the outside. We weren’t even sure we were in the right place. As we opened the door, we felt immediately excited and reassured. A jazz band was playing to our right. We just weren’t sure where to go. Had we gone in the stage door? One of the trumpeters motioned us along. It was a very swanky place. Between the door and the bar we had traveled back to an era of swing and raw musical talent that sometimes seems obsolete in 2015. The only thing missing was a thick cloud of smoke. The walls were a deep red and candle-like chandeliers dimly lit the joint here and there. We sat at the bar. Before we knew it, a local musician, E.T., was buying us drinks and telling us about the musical history of Kansas City. He was very excited that KC was our first stop and made sure we were shown some true KC hospitality. He had the manager take us around the building for a private tour. The band, we learned, was the Foundation 627 Big Band, a group dedicated to preserving specific musical traditions as a part of the Mutual Musicians Foundation of Kansas City. We were unable to get any pictures or videos that could properly convey the historical vibe, but that didn’t stop us from attempting. After the band finished their final set, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Lawrence for some sleep.

Day 3.

We aren’t able to sleep too late. Buttons, Julie’s Tuxedo cat is meowing outside our door and a long day ahead beckons us to rise. We pack, and reorganize the car – with any luck we’ll maneuver things around enough that we’ll be closer to fitting our mom in the back. Instead, we make things worse, but try to knock out some of the other more administrative tasks on our to do list. We meet Julie on her lunch break at Ingredient, a restaurant Monica used to frequent during her time at KU. A veggie-rich salad is a nice way to prevent heartburn between drool-worthy Kansas City BBQ.

Our first oral health and laughter yoga sessions are both today. We prep for our session with Kindergartners and first graders at Broken Arrow Elementary Boys and Girls Club in Lawrence, hide a thank you note for Julie, and head over. The kids at Broken Arrow were adorable and so much fun. They were very interested and engaged. Our hour came and went before we knew it. Their favorite activities seemed to be the “transitions” we use between laughter exercises – clapping hands together while saying “VERY GOOD, VERY GOOD, YAY!” or “HO, HO, HA, HA, HA”. They also loved the brushing the teeth song we recreated from NCOHF – America’s ToothFairy’s Community Education 101 Kit. We reworked it to the tune of “Cups”, made famous in Pitch Perfect. We teach the kids a dance they get to do with us at the chorus. It is very active, and we are always winded after the simultaneous singing and jumping. The boys were anxious to get to brush the example tooth with the oversized toothbrush, and the girls were excited to squeeze and interact with Tug from our sponsor Tug and the Tooth. We had a lot of fun and met some cool staff members, Ethan and Hannah. Ethan took lots of great pictures for us.

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Before hitting rush hour on our way out of Lawrence, we squeezed in one of Monica’s Lawrence signature foods, cream cheese pizza with honey for dipping. We ordered a small pizza and ate it in the car for no particular reason. More oral ecstasy. Saying goodbye to Lawrence is strange. We didn’t have a chance to get back on campus or drive by the places Monica used to live. Many memories flooded in for the duration, but without the people, the place isn’t the same.

The Wylie Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City is gorgeous. Colorful and bright, the house feels welcoming and hopeful. On the tour, we are shown a children’s boutique that has all free toys the kids can come to daily and pick out one a day. There is a stage and mini theater with shadow puppets, a large play area, and a space ship to foster imagination. There was a scheduling error and they had advertised the wrong time, but we did get to do some laughter yoga with a mother who was very interested and open to the experience. She was particularly excited about taking some of The Daily Smile’s “Keep Smilling” cards to keep and hand out.

Being at the Wylie Ronald McDonald House was more emotionally provoking than the experience we had in the Twin Cities. Maybe it was the tour or the conversation we had with the mother that triggered our memories of our time at RMHC of Durham and a genuine empathy for the daily struggle those at Ronald McDonald Houses experience. Our enthusiasm for our volunteering and adventure strengthens. It still isn’t fully hitting us what we’re doing. We head to a college friend of Allison's, Megan, and her husband Preston. We both spend the night visiting college friends and loving on Bennett, Megan and Preston’s son, and Dexter, their dog. Another day has passed more quickly than we can believe. Tomorrow we will head to St. Louis.

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