As I was writing an email yesterday to someone here in Iowa City who has had a profound influence on my life during the past two years, it occurred to me that, in fact, it had been exactly two years. Two years since I arrived into town, shell-shocked by circumstance, already missing my friends back in D.C., and, yet, determined to make a life here.
Not long after I started this blog, Alanna from Kitchen Parade stopped through Cedar Rapids on her way up to visit family, and we shared an early lunch and talked blogging, food and life in the Midwest.
“I added you to my list of Midwestern food bloggers,”she said. “But I thought about taking you off, if I haven’t done it already. “
“Taking me off?” I asked. “Because I’m not really from the Midwest?”
“No,” she said, with a twinkle in her eye. “Because I read you regularly and you don’t seem to be relishing your time here.”
The phrase stuck with me. I’m a relisher. I relish writing and food and life and experiences by the dozen and travel and family and friends and music and sports and good wine and staying up too late. If I don’t relish it, I prefer that it go away. And so, I set about trying to change my attitude, not because Alanna said so, but because it helps to have an outsider point out what you can’t always see for yourself.
Some of my changes I made because I wanted to, some of them I made because I didn’t have a choice, but I wouldn’t even trade the hardest changes. I firmly believe things happen for a reason, even if they make you feel as if the entire world has cracked open beneath you, yet left you floating above it, wishing it would swallow you whole. I firmly believe there is a time when your feet settle back to the ground, when you are able to feel gratitude again so deeply there’s no room for pain.
I spent my anniversary day pretty quietly: a little time in the garden, a little time making pesto, a little time roasting farmer’s market eggplant, an hour or so swimming with my friend Alison. I had a late brunch at the Hamburg Inn and placed a vote in the coffee bean poll. I made salsa to take to the office because, well, so much tomato goodness should be shared.
“Can you believe how much has changed in those two years?” Alison said when I told her what day it was. She arrived in town not long before I did, and we agree it feels like so much longer than just two years. “All those jobs we’ve had, all the other changes…”
“It’s crazy,” I said. “And I can’t believe what a good time I’m finally having.”
And that’s true. It took a garden, a few major life changes, and finally letting myself fall backward into the arms of a whole lot of new friends. It’s official: I’m relishing my time here. Every single minute of it.