Why do you live in Iowa? How did you end up there? I get asked that a lot. Especially by people who think Iowa is nothing but corn fields, pigs and interstates that take you other places, better places. We often get confused for Idaho, to which I say no, Idaho potatos, we have corn.
I think Iowa is the kind of place you only come across if you get off the interstate. If you are brave enough to get off that interstate of life and let something become a part of you without even knowing it is happening.
My wife and I decided on Iowa rather suddenly. She had a job interview in Des Moines at the local hospital just before she graduated. On a whim, we drove to Iowa on a Staurday night in the fall of 98. From Misouri at 10 p.m., arriving at 3 in the morning. I can't tell you which Motel 6 we stayed at, or how long we were lost on a then undeveloped Grand Avenue West. We liked what we saw. They actually had buildings and a downtown area, and a sky walk and everything was clean, and the air was fresh.
We talked to people we met at Racoon River Brewery. Young people who were excited to be here but couldn't sum up the reasons why. We were sold. We moved to Des Moines two months later after my wife finished school.
We had made a mistake, or so we thought. The winter was down right brutal. Twelve feet had piled up at one point and we thought we were crazy. As did our friends. We figured we would stay in the apartment a couple of years, save some money and move elsewhere. A great job made me stay and buy a house. And have Bella. And somewhere inbetween, eight years, three kids, two jobs and a second house that is surrounded by corn fields and pigs we are home.
We are the rare exception. People that come to Iowa for a better life. The state struggles to keep young people here. Young people encouraged to leave by the unknown, people to young to realize they have it all right here.
Iowa will teach you patience, as in, you better be creative if you want to be entertained. People in Iowa tend to find ways to entertain themselves. I have become more creative, I have become more innovative, I have gained a lot of weight.
I believe that no where on earth can you make new friends as quickly as you can in Iowa. I am not talking about people you know, or spend time with. I am talking about people who in a short time you are willing to share your deepest fears, your greatest moments and your life's journey.
Iowa should be known as the neighborly state. People reaching out to help each other. We don't even have to ask. People calling to see if we need help with the kids, can we do anything for you, bring you antyhing. Can we pray for you?
Sure we have snow in April, and the winter can be down right brutal. Nothing is perfect. You can be watching the season finale of Grey's Anatomy (pick your show) and the news will interupt to tell you that a building that has been abandoned for over 20 years, in some town you have never heard of is on fire. There are no injuries or deaths, but the News Chopper has some excellent footage. 15 minutes later, you get back to your show already in progress. The leads for fivc o'clock news often starts something like, "Our top story tonight, 'How to get rid of crab grass' We'll have an in-depth look.
Dave Matthews has a lyric that makes me think about my family and this wonderful state we call home. He sings:
Turns out not where but who you're with that really matters,
and it hurts not much when you're around
and if you hold on tight to what you think is your thing
You may find you're missing all the rest
I have thought about leaving Iowa, but for what? I've been all over the states and I'm not missing much. The people I love are here, and those that aren't sure love to visit.