Iowa homecoming

I haven’t been to Iowa since I was a year old. And it’s beautiful here. But it doesn’t feel like home.

A recent comment from a reader in Oregon noted that said reader was thinking of moving back to the midwest. I don’t know, man. I’ve lived a lot of places, and San Francisco is home for me because I’ve spent more time there than anywhere else. But also because I have a thing for major Universities, the ocean, theater, symphonies, and 24-hour days.  So I’m probably staying somewhere between The Pacific Northwest and Northern California. Iowa and Missouri are (mostly) gorgeous, but things close earlier than I can handle. And I don’t fit here. There is no soy for my coffee, nor is there nonfat milk. Nor is there coffee. There’s coffee flavored water. And that’s okay, but it doesn’t feel like home. There is no organic section in the market (although Kansas City had three frozen entrees from Kashi, all of which I purchased) and there is no recycing anywhere, let alone in public places. We’re eating popcorn and hormone-antibiotic-pesticide yogurt for breakfast because the word vegetarian makes people projectile vomit out here…understandable, but it doesn’t feel like home.
There is a reason I couldn’t find parks. Because everything is a park. Our hotel, the only thing for miles and miles, is lakeside, and we awoke to a window full of vast expanses of thick-trunked trees, distant views of barns and silos, the sound of canadian geese, and a steady breeze lapping the muddy water across the front of slowly trolling boats. But radio stations play country and Jesus only. In KC we found alternative rock, classical, NPR, rap, elevator music, classic rock, and 80s nostalgia stations. Iowa border switched to just steel guitar and the Lord.
For those who have lost their corn, Iowa and Nebraska may be the way to go. I could handle the winters, I think, since I’ve spent time in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Boston. But unless I’m in Chicago, I don’t see the Midwest in my future any time soon. I don’t need skyscrapers. I need cafes full of writers, indie music, and stellar theater.
Good luck deciding. Peanut LOVES it here. He’d move with ya.

5 thoughts on “Iowa homecoming

  1. “I need cafes full of writers…”

    I’ve never seen one of these, but I wish I had one nearby too.

  2. @faemom I know, right?
    @ck really? never? omg come out here. SF, East Bay, Peninsula, South Bay all crawling with laptops and espresso and half-written novels. Come to the dark side.

  3. Really enjoyed the midwest blogs, NTW – a nice reality check as we consider our options. The place in Iowa is still an option (so is staying in OR or moving to NorCal), but your reminder of what fly-over country is like certainly gives me pause.

    I want a place of my own, though. Somewhere I can walk and think and breathe. I don’t see how this can happen on a coast without selling more of my soul to a bank than I’m willing to part with. Maybe money will find me one day, because I don’t seem to have the personality to go looking for it.

    But I also want the cafes full of writers; especially the cafes full of writers. I don’t know how to make this decision.

    • Oh, dbj, next time I’m in Portland we’re gonna talk over coffee. Because you have just articulated the debate going on in my head, the one that has been written endlessly on the walls of my skull for the past 10 years. We’ve thought, Spouse and I, that San Louis Obsipo is a good compromise, for there is open farmland and ocean and world-class education, which means writers slumped over laptops and fair trade Americanos. But he can’t work there, so it would have to be in retirement. Chicago and San Francisco and New York have the art scene I need. Idaho and Wyoming and Montana have the space we crave. But we haven’t found anything that is the right balance. Tahoe might be it. Portland might be it. Seattle might be it. And renting forever in the San Francisco Bay Area, most beautiful and soul-enlivening place I’ve ever been, barring parts of France and Spain, while saving pennies for retirement might be the compromise we make. I don’t know how to decide, either. Far northern California ain’t our cup of tea. Nor is anything more than 20 miles from a major body of water.

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