So how did a person born on the southwest coast of England end up living in Des Moines, IA? Well that story is a bit long and complicated. Here’s the short version (I promise).
My parents immigrated to Canada when I was a little girl. I spent a good number of years growing up in the “Maritimes” (yep, I started school in New found land of all places). We then moved to Toronto when I was a teenager (a tough age to move, I recall my Dad convincing me it was a good idea because there would be bigger concerts than those that came through Halifax, Nova Scotia). Fast forward through a few (several) years to landing a job transfer to San Francisco. Leaving behind my folks (as they did theirs in the UK) I headed west. And a few years later, I found the love of my life – an Iowa native who had moved out to SF a few years before me. Fast forward again – wedding in Sonoma, starting a family – and here we are.
I will admit to having a few moments of “Oh my God, what have we done” when we first moved here. Keep in mind, our daughter was just 6 months old at the time, and I was still likely raging with post-partum hormones. Maybe not the best time to pack up our lives of the last 12 years (14 for my husband Tom) in California and move half-way across the country.
The first thing I realized is that I didn’t (yet) have any geography to ground myself by. I had always felt a sense of orientation near a large body of water – first the Atlantic ocean in my early days, followed by the shores of Lake Ontario, and most recently the Pacific Ocean. I didn’t realize just how much I relied on that geographical element until I no longer had it.
A few weeks after the big move, I went to run an errand on the west side of Des Moines (we’re on the SE side). I was in the car, without Tom and the baby, driving along unfamiliar highways. As I looked around at fields, woods, and just plain openness of land, I panicked. It was an odd, un-centered feeling. I managed to get through the trip, but not without white-knuckles and tear-stained cheeks.
I chose to chalk it up to those post-baby hormones. But it was clear that I did need to find that grounding geographical element, and I did – the rivers. They helped me to figure out a mental map of Des Moines, and gave me something to not only orient myself to, but also to observe. I also started to read up on the history of my new home, and found reference (granted, it was Wikipedia) to “River of the Monks.” For whatever reason, the rivers helped me settle in. Whenever I criss-cross the bridges of Des Moines, I’m aware of the rivers running under them.
My first year here has gone by quickly. In fact, my one year “Iowanniversary” is just days away – a fitting time to start writing and sharing about life in Des Moines and Iowa. I plan to cover a pretty full spectrum of topics, all under the theme of Des Moines is NOT Boring. I hope you enjoy the posts, and I look forward to your comments.