You know that elated, high on life feeling when you first meet someone and they just get you? Your heart flutters a little any time you think about them or see them. The more you get to know this person the more you’re wondering where they have been until now. You want to find a reason to bring them up in conversation to your friends but you also want to play it cool because no one wants to hear how you both use the safe toothpaste. But the longer time goes on, the more you think “This is it. This is love.” Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling for a while now.
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for months but all I could come up with is “I’M IN LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and nobody likes to read something in all caps or with a thousand exclamation points. But I am in love.
I haven’t decided to divorce Tim. I’m still very much in love with him. No, I’m talking about Iowa. I’m in love with this place.
When the kids and I arrived in January I was giddy but I think it had more to do with getting out of New York (sorry, not sorry) than it was with our destination. Because let’s be real: no one should be excited about moving into a new house when it’s 9 degrees outside. I suspect my enthusiasm was also a preventive measure against getting a serious case of winter blues as well.
But then the kids started school and interacting with the locals and everyone was just so damn nice. And isn’t it sad when being decent to your fellow human being is the odd thing? People nod or offer a quick “Hello” when you pass them, the neighbors bring cookies over and introduce themselves, and I haven’t seen a rude hand gesture in six months. And I can’t say I wasn’t guilty of being curt and standoffish to people myself but now I feel I make an effort to be congenial or at least refrain from my default appear to be annoyed.
Since Iowa is a brand-new place to all of us, we’ve been making a concerted effort to get out and try something new or explore an area as often as possible. Our location in the Des Moines metro area offers us a variety of lifestyles to choose from and the commute can be as long or as short as we’d like it to be. We can find farms and country living in one direction and all that urban life has to offer in the other direction. I was shocked to find how physically active the community is. There are so many trails for biking, walking, running, and hiking within our town and many of them connect. Nature seems to be a big priority for the state as well. All the state parks we’ve found have been free admission but well maintained. We went camping over Memorial Day weekend at a state-run campground and I can’t say enough good things about it.
One of the biggest things that has allowed us to enjoy Des Moines and Iowa in general is the cost of living. If I’m being honest, we were living close to paycheck-to-paycheck in New York, something we’ve never experienced before and something we couldn’t really avoid. Everything from utilities and food to entertainment and activities was just so damn expensive. It limited what we could do while we lived there. Here public amenities like the lake and parks are free to take advantage of. Our babysitter’s rate is much more reasonable and allows us to have date nights more often. We bought memberships to the zoo and science center for a reasonable price and both are only fifteen minutes away. Because we’re living at the beginning of farm country, certain food prices like eggs and pork and milk are cheaper than the East Coast. Having a comfortable financial buffer has eased our anxieties about unexpected expenses.
I have been trying to keep my emotions in check. I kept hearing from locals that the summers are brutal and the winter we experienced was mild. I reminded myself that it would be great if there was an IKEA here or if my favorite clothing store, New York & Company, hadn’t closed right before I got here. But for every “man I wish” moment there are three other things that are just awesome and I cannot find anywhere else. So I think it’s safe to say that I love Iowa.
What do you want to hear more about Des Moines and Iowa?