This post was postponed, postponed and then further postponed….by a myriad of things. Instead of making excuses, I’ll tell you about them.
I arrived in Iowa City a little before midnight on September 1st. I went down to my new digs, in Emily and John’s basement, and made myself comfortable. There were a few days slow-moving, and then the storm came. This particular storm: serendipity.
The following day, I awoke to a house filled with people, and began weaving in and out of it, trying to find a rhythm.
On my first walk, I headed down the block to find the entrance to a magical place. A park, 190 acres wide with multiple trails running throughout. I’ve seen 9 deer in there to date, and too many chipmunks to count. These trails are where I’ve spent the best parts of my days. I have run them, walked them, gotten lost, and then found myself. I grew up where woods were my backyard, and they were where I passed my time, always alone, wandering and winding.
Circling a small trail, you get spit out on the other end of the block. There I discovered more magic. A little wooden house with a plaque atop declared itself as the Little Free Library. When I first came upon it, I gasped. I slowly opened the small glass door and peered inside, scared to touch the books, just letting my eyes rest on their titles. A few moments later, I allowed myself to touch them, and I was gone in 60 seconds. On my way back home, with a new book shelved in my armpit.
The Little Free Library is part of a larger system. They’re all over the city. It seems this city may love words as much as I do. They’re revered here; this is one of the six Unesco Cities of Literature in the world — the ONLY one in the Americas. I’ve been to multiple book readings already, and poured over the list of library events.
And so came the rest. I made a 3-page list of places hiring and set out to scale it. The first place I walked into hired me. I took a chance on a boy and now am planning my weeks around times in which I can hold his hand. I secured my first ‘informational interview’. I have been voraciously eating up Iowa, like Pacman on his course, open-mouthed.
I live in a kind house. A really, really kind house. I’m not sure I knew that a whole family could fill up a space with kindness until I stood amongst it. There are two kind adults, who address each other respectfully, who work their asses off at work but still give so much time and energy to their little ones…and then there are the little ones. Two boys, ages 4 and 1, who are so great they give me the goose bumps. I love the feel of life with them in it. I love picking up the alphabet magnets off the floor in the morning. I love the sound of the baby coos coming through the monitor. I love that Cole kisses me on the mouth, assimilating me into family. I love that his voice sounds like Elmo’s and that he smiles every single time I say hello to him.
Bela is doing very well. She has been sequestered to the basement or the yard, so as to leave the main dwelling to the cats who already called this place home. We feared for their safety a bit, but after two break-ins by B (I’ll be damned if she hasn’t learned how to open a door), it seems the only thing the cats need to fear is my not refilling their food bowls after she eats her fill. Bela too, treads new terrain like I do — with her hind legs shaking, eager as can be.
A few months ago I had no idea I would be living in Iowa. I made the decision when no other decision made sense; and I’m so glad I did. I picked up my Iowa license plates today. I’m an Iowan. For the time being, at least. And the time being may be all that I have.
I feel alive like I haven’t in years. I feel like there is fairy dust in the air here, falling about my head. I’ve never had a strong sense of ‘home’, and I’ve never sought it. I’ve enjoyed the jumping into a place and making it mine – both its streets and its citizens. But something isn’t quite right here. Something feels different. As odd as it may seem…it feels like I’ve come home.