Last night I got back from a whirlwind, 48-hour trip out to Iowa. I lived in Iowa City from 1996 to 2007, and this was my first chance to get back there since I moved here to L.A., just over two years ago. It was pretty much a perfect little two-day getaway, where I got to spend some time with basically my very best friends from the Iowa days, one of whom got married on Saturday.
My route took me from Burbank (thank goodness, no LAX!) to Dallas and on to the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids (aka “The Best, Easiest Little Airport in the Whole Damn Country”). I rented a brand-spanking new Kia Forte (nice ride!) and drove down to stay with Carol, one of my very best friends in the world, in Coralville. That night I crashed the rehearsal dinner and had a great time catching up with the bride-to-be and another really good friend, before heading back home for an unprecedented 11-hour night of sleep. (I woke up kind of shocked at what time it was!)
I had time to kill before the wedding on Saturday so I spent most of the morning and early afternoon cruising the streets of Iowa City and Coralville. I guess I haven’t really been gone long enough for there to be huge changes, although there was still plenty of evidence (if not as much as I was expecting) of the huge floods that wracked the region not too long ago. Zipping around the familiar streets, past old haunts and a succession of former apartments, I found myself strangely emotional about the place…missing it dearly and the wonderful people I don’t get to see any more, but also remembering a lot of the history and baggage that made me feel it was time to move on.
The wedding and the reception were out in Solon, and while there were awkward moments aplenty (ever been to a wedding, by yourself, when everyone you know there is in the wedding party and busy busy busy?), eventually things got more casual and I had a good time that night, eating and drinking and spending time with old friends.
The next morning I had breakfast with Carol and her boyfriend, and once they were off to work, I cruised back up to the airport and started the return trip. Considering how incredibly fast the whole weekend was, it was a very relaxing couple of days.
I will always have fond memories of Iowa City. It’s the place I built a life for myself. I’ll never forget getting dropped off at my friends’ apartment on Burlington in the summer of ’96. We unloaded all my earthly possessions from a rental van into the spare bedroom, my mom wrote me a check for $500.00 to get me started, and I was pretty much on my own for the first time. By and large, I think everything turned out pretty good. 🙂