Today in the Americas: Tiradentes and the Inconfidência Mineira
Tiradentes (Joaquim José da Silva Xavier) died today in 1792 (220 years ago). He was a part of Inconfidência Mineira, a revolutionary group that demanded the independence of Brazil from the tyranny of the Portuguese monarchy.
I left Denver at four am. I followed someone on a detour of I-25 three blocks down a one-way street. I took Alt 70 through all of Colfax to the real highway. I passed maybe ten cars total to the Kansas border. I did, however, get to see the sunrise alone.
The sunrise was along Highway 36 - the northernmost artery of Kansas and the only east-west route I haven’t taken in the state. Let me tell you, it’s very isolated. There were, however, a few towns that I stopped in.
Then to Oberlin. Then to Norton. Then to Phillipsburg. I had to stop outside Lebanon to stand at the geographical center of the United States.
Belleville. Pony Express route markers. Controlled burns in the distance. Marysville. Plains and more plains. Seneca. Turned down 75 toward Holton. Took a detour around wonderful Perry Lake. I was in Lawrence just as my boy C got off work.
The buzz and excitement on Mass was palpable. I was tired. My neck was killing me. Yet, I made it a point to drive amongst those I used to call neighbors. The blue and red was on every living soul. KU flags were flying in places I hadn’t seen before. It was a little disorienting: drum circles formed around themselves, Dillion’s was torn asunder to rebuild itself, so many Kansas license plates that had I’d now played hide-and-seek with in Denver.
Of course, seeing my friends was amazing. I never realize how much I miss these people until I return, until I leave again.
Buying me a Final Four t-shirt. Boulevard’s. A few drives down Mass just to feel something. The Wee Baby Wyatt and his dreams of flight. K and S and their best behaviors. MDMA. Mario Party 8. Grocery shopping after midnight for eggs and maple bacon. Eudora for Eudora’s sake. Stories about where you were in 2008 against where I was in 2008. Hearing the truth about people you once loved and how guilt-ridden they still remain - then being told you were always too good-looking for her.
We played Beer Pong between the games. I talked to A for most of the game - getting to know her as only sips of alcohol can. Even the best of friends always have something new to discover. Then, it happened! 64-62! We’re all in front of the TV, screaming, hugging. No one had to say anything. We packed up and headed toward Mass. We took 19th, through the university. A and I were out of the back windows just yelling, congratulating the kids walking home from Allen Fieldhouse, high-fiving, hugging, professing our love toward them. We park outside where I used to live on Tennessee and enter Mass through 11th.
I haven’t hugged, kissed, shook hands, highfived that much in all my life. I lost my voice pretty quick that night and it didn’t return until well into the next morning. This was an event on my bucket list. This was something I needed to remember what a community can feel like - imagined as it is.
I reluctantly said goodbye the next night to head back to Denver. I wasn’t in Lawrence for KU’s eventual loss to Kentucky - although I was glad to hear of the Kentucky signs being taken down (something I just knew would happen). I braved the tornado winds rolling through eastern Colorado before they got to Dallas and got two hours of sleep before heading back to life, as it currently stands.
“There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange.”—John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath