When our Iowa journey began five years ago today, I was largely pregnant with William, my fourth baby. Like 36 weeks pregnant. We moved into a rental in the woods. A rental house that nobody knew when it was built, it was that old. And possibly haunted. Through the trees a couple hundred of feet was the Mississippi. We didn’t know a single person. We had never seen the area, minus google maps. It seemed crazy. But it turns out that it wasn’t. It was perfect. We swam every day in the above ground pool. We had hot dogs most nights during the summer. We met Grandma Barb and Daryll, our next door neighbors, who were just nosy enough to be endearing. We loved our time in LeClaire, even though it was hard and lonely at times. Magical LeClaire where you can see the stars and see four seasons and see the slow life. But it wasn’t to remain this way.
We moved 15 months in. I was mad. I was furious that we had to start over again. We moved to our new town and lived in a rental that was definitely less charming and didn’t have the woods as our back yard. But the school was across the street and we did have sidewalks for bike riding practice and friends down the street. We had to adjust in this new place. We had to start all over again, not knowing a single person. We had to go out of ourselves and try new things. Plus, there was nothing to do here in the winter. But we adjusted.
Then we moved again, but only ten minutes away, thank goodness. Still, it was an adjustment: new schools, new friends, new house. A house we had bought and when William sat in the basement when we toured it said, “This is our home.” And we knew he was right. We affectionately called it the circle house because it’s all interconnected and the kids can run circles through every room. We grew a garden, had friends come to play, remodeled and DIYed everything. It was our reward for making it through the moves and Ryan’s death and the miscarriages yet to come. It was a place we could call home without needing to sign another lease. And we got to choose this house, flaws and quirks included.
Today, I am happy to say that we are pretty much Iowans. As bizarre as this statement is to me after growing up In Las Vegas, the polar opposite of Iowa, I can say we are Iowans. This place has gotten into our hearts. The endless fields of corn and never ending blue skies. Blue, like the color “sky blue” in the crayon box. The people who are willing to help in any case, whether they know you or not. The neighbors who have become extended family. The school and church friends who we know well and love. (It’s sad when you move somewhere and don’t know anyone at the store but we do now.) The fireflies, the humidity, the moss, the trees, the trails, the gray skies, the clouds, the tornado warnings/watches, the brutal winters. We have accepted this place for what it is.
I often wonder if we are done moving. I get nervous thinking about it and I think about what I would miss. The people, the forests, the side of the road food stands, the garage sales. The schools, the mom and pop diners, the gas station donuts, the fields, the Amish. I would miss it all. I would miss being able to grow pretty much anything in the garden. I would miss the two day snowstorms that leave us with cuddling and with cabin fever. I would miss the fall with its colors and the sixty bags of leaves to rake. I would miss the spring with its tulips and daffodils and after dinner walks. I would miss the summer’s fireflies, late nights, humidity, heat waves. I would miss it all.
I know we can be happy anywhere, we have moved 15 times. I miss the mountains of my first home and the feeling of safety that they bring. We were happy there. I miss the fresh mountain area of Idaho, where Blake and I first began this crazy journey. We were happy there. But this is where our family has grown. This is where we became each other’s best friends. This is where my kids know home. They don’t really remember any other place. It is normal for them to know long winters and humid summers. It is normal for them to have to find our own fun. It is normal for them to walk through the woods and to recognize what a tick looks like. It is normal for them to see deer jump our fence and squirrels run up our tree. I love that their childhood “normal” is so different from mine. I love that I get to have my childhood home and theirs in my memories.
See what I mean about the skies.