I’m going to be a scientist. As far as , that’ll make me among the first lady scientists in the whole world, and certainly the first lady scientist in Kansas—maybe the only scientist at all in this sun-baked, thorny-plant, tree-lonely, dirty-water, skinny-animal, dusty-air, grasshopper-happy, God-forsaken place. Have you ever been to Kansas? I wouldn’t come if I were you. For one, it’s dangerous. For two, there’s nothing to do here.
When I’m a scientist, I will sign on with an oceanic expedition and travel to the far reaches of the earth, just like Father did. I’ll call myself an oceanist, a person who studies everything in the ocean, from the currents to the largest whales. On my expedition I’ll discover new species of birds, fish, and plants. I’ll sketch their likenesses and write careful entries in a journal about their behaviors and dwellings. I’ll take samples of these specimens and preserve them. That way, people everywhere will be able to enjoy them and imagine what life is like somewhere else, which is a thing everyone is wont to do at least once in a while. I know I do all the time.
One nice thing about Kansas is that it’s so boring that nothing is likely to interrupt you when you are imagining about living somewhere else. Lots of times, I just sit and imagine for hours and hours. I imagine what life would be like if our family had stayed in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the most beautiful and interesting city in America. It is the city where Father was born and Mother was born and Priss was born and I was born. Since staying there wasn’t possible, sometimes I imagine what life would be like if we had stolen a boat and sailed away from America rather than come here to Tolerone, Kansas, where nothing remarkable or scientific ever happens, except for a cyclone once in a while . I’ve never seen one yet, even though the folks here talk about them as if they happen all the time. If I did see one, I’d probably run right into it and hope it would fly me away from here. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to make do with my imagination.