A dozen U.S. states comprise the region known as the Midwest and for thirty of my 54 years I lived in three of them; Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. (Technically I also lived in Michigan, a fourth Midwestern state, but as I don’t remember the first four months of my life we’ll stick with the alliteration of the three contiguous “I” States.) Today I join my beloved wife and goddess and start my new life in Florida, a part of the South, which is the other region that I called home for the remainder of my 24 years of life. (Thoroughness dictates that I admit to also having lived in the New England State of Connecticut for a total of about a year and a half.)
No matter where I’ve lived a nearly universal complaint that is voiced by folks who are in their teens and twenties is how some “other” place is cooler than where they live now. This was true when I lived in D.C., Birmingham, Hartford, Atlanta, Indianapolis as well as Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (I’m sure it was true in Bloomington/Normal too but I was only ten when we moved from Illinois to Maryland so I didn’t hang with folks of that age much!)
Iowa has been my home more than any other State. At seventeen plus years I’ve lived here the longest and this is where my children grew up. Cedar Rapids is where we established roots that grew stronger with ever school, Scout, neighbor and church encounter. Thrilling? Maybe not, but certainly enriching.
We have two children and our older, recently married son is remaining in Iowa in hopes of domestic tranquility, albeit in Des Moines which is far more cosmopolitan of a locale than is Cedar Rapids. Low-key, middle America routines are his meat and potatoes and I pray that he and his bride have a long, bliss filled domesticity in front of them.
Our younger son is a thrill seeker. He once set out to hitchhike from Iowa to South America and is currently part of a two man, untrained, ill-outfitted, inexperienced team attempting to navigate a sailboat from Duluth, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana. He’s been anxious to leave behind the bucolic beauty, the majestic rolling fields and deep blue skies of Iowa since he was seventeen. If he survives his Twainish trip then he thinks he’ll try to settle down some with us in central Florida. I hope he joins us replete with great stories to tell and finds the balance between romance and responsibility that makes life both exciting and meaningful.
For nearly 35 years I have started off on new adventures with the woman who is my wife and we first set off as teenagers from D.C. and headed to Alabama. My youth is gone and I say adieu to my Dad years. The roads and rivers thus far traveled have frequently been difficult but with her as my anchor I think my sailboat will navigate our new waters.
After all, when it comes to life aren’t we all untrained, ill-outfitted and inexperienced? But if we’re lucky we get to voyage as part of a team and that makes weathering the storms a whale of a lot easier!