|Connie Philips, Hannah Ross, Emily Phillips Reyes and Emily's husband Cristian Reyes talk at the county fair in Clark County, Missouri. (Washington Post photo by Matt McClain)|
|Kahoka, Missouri |
(Sperling's Best Places map)
Emily's relationships back home had become increasingly bumpy, as her personal convictions changed. But she had loved going to the Clark County Fair since she was a girl, and had promised to help her parents run their concession booth for three days. So she went, and McCrummen's story highlights the awkward, delicate navigation of her visit. Her husband Cristian pitched in, trying hard not to draw attention to himself as an immigrant. He had been raised in rural Missouri since he was eight, and showed up to meet Emily at the fair wearing a shirt with a huge American flag. He was, he told her, in "full PR mode."
But controversial topics kept coming up in conversations, parts of which McCrummen reports verbatim, and everyone involved had to choose whether to engage in arguments that would not likely change anyone's mind. "Maybe the best path forward was avoidance, Emily thought. Avoid Trump, avoid all related controversial subjects. Talk about biscuits and fries and the demolition derby and appreciate what Kahoka was, not what it wasn’t," McCrummen writes. That approach worked, for the most part. And after the controversial topics were stripped away, what was left were the everyday conversations between people who love each other, even if they don't understand each other's beliefs so well any more. The story is a good weekend read.