Destination: Iowa

Moving every three to seven years was a fact of my life growing up. It’s wasn’t something we got to choose—that’s just the way it was. At 18, I moved east halfway across the country to go to college.

Three years later and married, we moved to the Chicago area, my husband’s stomping ground. After a six-year-span marked by two apartments, one house, two jobs, and two kids, we went west to California, closer to some of my family. Six years, two houses, two dogs, and two more kids later, we were back in Chicagoland. I made it clear—this was my last move. I think that made God smile.

The new job didn’t work out the way we hoped, but my husband honored my declaration and embarked on Plan B. I wondered if I would have to eat my words, and if there was a seasoning I could use to make them more palatable. A friend told us about a job tailor-made for my husband. When he said it was in Pella, Iowa, I laughed. When I told my husband, he laughed. Nothing against Iowa, I had lots of relatives there, but I’d never thought of it as a destination. We discovered that many of our good friends had roots there, but our joke was, “You left.”

We visited. He interviewed. The kids’ first Iowa experience was during an exploratory trip. After an overnight in Davenport, we left the hotel and waited at the light to turn onto a divided four-lane highway leading to I-80. As a pickup with a load of wood made a left turn in front of us, their ropes came loose and lumber was spread across two lanes of highway, stopping traffic. Nobody honked. People stopped their cars to help get the wood off of the highway and back into the pickup. When it was all cleaned up, everyone waved and went on their way. Gave us something to talk about for the next ten miles or so.

We made a plus/minus list on the way home from the visit, but had a hard time deciding which category to put some things in. For instance:

  • The common one-finger-off-the-steering-wheel wave. We’d seen this in Chicago, of course, but it was a different finger.
  • Saying hello to everyone who walked past you on the sidewalk.
  • A bank in a windmill.
  • Ceramic statues of Dutch-costumed boys and girls kissing graced many lawns.
  • The highlight of the year in Pella was something called Tulip Time.

Twenty years later, still in Pella, we count the above list in the plus column, and I know better than to make any declarations about moving. I think that makes God smile.

 

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