Posts Tagged ‘moving’

the top ten things i will miss

In ascending order:

1. The snow.
Yes, after all that complaining, I will miss the snow. Justalittlebit. In my hometown, two inches of snow is grounds for canceling school. Easily. Virginia just doen’t get that much snow (er, excepting the last couple snowpocalypse years. Don’t know what’s going on there). Snow has never lost its magic on me, and Iowa has been extremely good to my winter wonderland excitement. Here, snow is measured in feet, not in inches.

2. Central Time.
At the risk of sounding really old and uncool, I love that shows start an hour earlier here. I am totally jazzed that SNL is over by midnight and the Daily Show airs at a very manageable ten o’clock. Sometimes the time change works the wrong way — like when I had to wake up at four to watch the Royal Wedding, instead of five like every other normal human — but normally I couldn’t be happier with the earlier hour.

3. The co-op.
New Pi is fabulous. I can’t tell you how — relieved? — I was the first time I walked inside two Septembers ago. The cheeses! The freshly baked bread! The bulk herbs and spices, the sandwich bar, and then, once again, the cheeses! It’s primarily stocked with organics, which I like, but not at the exorbitant prices Whole Foods charges, which I like even more. Plus, there’s just something about being in a co-op. You have a member number; you belong.

4. The downtown/small town thing.
People always ask me what it’s like living in Iowa, and I always make the careful distinction that Iowa City is very different from Iowa the state. As with most most states. Chicago is not like the rest of Illinois. McLean is definitely not like the rest of Virginia. And so it follows, Iowa City is a little oasis of cosmopolitan life in a state (let’s be honest, an entire region, a whole swath of the country) usually associated with corn fields. With such outstanding law, medicine, and especially creative writing programs, it’s more sophisticated than you’d think. But at the same time, it’s a very small town, and retains that coziness right down to the taxi drivers, who have been to that restaurant you directed them to and recommend the bacon-wrapped dates.

5. The trains.
This rates really pretty high on the charm scale. Reliably, several times throughout the day and when we’re falling asleep, the sound of a train horn woo-woos its way to our house. There are train tracks winding their way to, um, somewhere, right through the children’s park at the end of Melrose Court. And there have been many times, mostly in Cedar Rapids, when I’ve had to wait fifteen minutes for a cargo train chug to through. Most people in New York blame their lateness on the trains, meaning the subway; but I’ve been late because of an actual train. I’m not going to lie… it makes me feel like a pioneer.

6. Cheap rent.
I am well aware that I may never again pay such a low price per square foot. I haven’t done the math, but I have spent two years living in a duplex with a lawn, a garage, a porch, three bedrooms, a washer/dryer, a dishwasher, walk-in closets, hardwood floors, and a living room couch the size of most of my friends’ living rooms. I know, factually, that the price my boyfriend and I pay per month is the same as what a New York friend pays for her half of a two-bedroom apartment. It’s going to be hard realigning my shock-o-meter with big city prices.

7. The restaurants.
Particularly Hearth (where we ate Monday night), Shorts (where we ate last night), and Devotay (which we haven’t been to recently, but will be my first stop on return visits). I love these restaurants. They are places I would eat at in any city — even in New City, a big ol’ town filled with some many wonderful, varied dining options, I would stick with these three. Devotay, with its wall of windows overlooking Linn Street, its twinkle lights, its candles and mismatched chairs, has the most fabulous tapas (the grilled zucchini with aioli! swoon!) and paella I’ve ever had — and the most romantic, homey atmosphere. Shorts won me over from the get-go with their locally sourced beef, and has held onto my affection with their enormous list of upapologetically creative, boldly flavored burger toppings. And then there’s Hearth. If my first year in Iowa was all about Devotay, this second and last one has been a lot more Hearth-concentrated, and it’s the one I will miss the most, because I came to think of it as our place. We went when it first opened about eighteen months ago, and have witnessed the menu’s ups and downs — the ascension of their wood-fired pizzas, the sad departure of the ceviche, the return of the fish tacos to B’s utter delight. The last couple times, the waiter (for there is only one) greeted us with a “nice to see you again,” and on Monday said, “I’ll give you your regular table.” Friends, there are few things I love more than being a regular. So I will miss the restaurants.

8. Grilling on our porch.
I know it seems like a small thing, but grilling on our L-shaped porch, with its slightly elevated view of the rest of the neighborhood, is one of the things I’ll most miss. I love it in football season (ie. all of autumn), when the street is chock full of students wearing gold and black t-shirts or overalls or bathing suits, and everyone is loud, happy, and carrying a beer. (Those three things are probably related.) And we’re perched up on the porch, with a big group of friends, and the grill lets out a smoky sizzle when we turn the brats. And then there’s spring, when it’s calmer, colder, most students quietly streaming home from class while we barbecue chicken or grill burger patties, porch swings in hand. It is my favorite thing.

9. The house.
Even though it positively leaks heat, it’s been home for almost two years. I will miss listening to the house settle at night and the creaks that used to freak me out until I realized it was the sound of our neighbors walking around the other half of the house. I will miss our groaning, moaning stairs that double as a built-in security alarm. I will miss the unfinished basement and it’s coal storage room, mostly because I have enjoyed telling people I live in a turn-of-last-century house with a coal storage room, and I will miss the dumb birds who lay their eggs in the nook below the window air-conditioning unit. I will miss the beveled edges of the front door’s glass windows and the way that hot air blowing out of the living room vent makes the fan blades turn. I never got to open the mysterious trunk in the garage. Maybe over a visit next fall.

10. Boyfriend.
Well. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. This is what I’ll miss the most.

top five things i won’t miss

1. The cold.
Cold, gray, and wet winters that blow in early and linger until first of May: good riddance! (NB: I know it is not actually good riddance, as Williamstown winters are nothing to sneeze at, either. But go with it.)

2. The house’s almost complete lack of insulation.
Which necessitates keeping the thermostat at bracing sixty or sixty-five degrees throughout the aforementioned half-a-year-long winters. The worst part is that these measures only kind of help. The heating bill is still too high.

3. The shopping.
Or lack thereof. There are some (four) very cute women’s boutiques downtown, but otherwise it’s extremely slim pickings out here. I can’t wait to get closer than two hours from J. Crew, Williams Sonoma, and Crate and Barrel, and less than three from Anthropologie, Nordstroms, and so much more. I miss drooling over their window displays and dreaming of the day I’ll be able to recreate a Pottery Barn catalog spread in my rustic-chic beach house.

4. The dearth of weekend activities.
I can’t wait to get back to cities with a lively museum and cultural landscape. I’ve missed having the choice of which museum to explore on a leisurely Sunday afternoon. There is one museum here, and it’s thirty minutes away, and I spent last spring writing an educational guide to it — so I don’t need to spend my weekends meandering through it, too. Oh, and I’ve missed brunch! Oh, how I’ve missed brunch. One of our favorite restaurants, One Twenty Six, just started serving a very respectable brunch; before that, your options were a diner; a hamburger joint; a vegan restaurant; and Blackstone, which does a very nice brunch but is a bit far. All told, it adds up to a very limited choice of weekend diversions. There’s Amana, which is beautiful in September and May (and sometimes October) and enchanting in December… but how many times can you actually visit the Amana General Store and the Amana Woolen Mill? Once a month for two years is rather pushing it.

5. The layovers.
More precisely, the layovers to get anywhere. You can only get direct flights to three places: Minneapolis (takes just as long to drive), Chicago (likewise), and Detroit (which, it must be said, is a splendid airport). I will be one happy kitten when I don’t have to fuss with gate-checking luggage, timing layovers properly, and taking propeller planes.

So there you have it. The top five things I’m thrilled to be leaving behind!

the last week

This is less than the last week. This is the last three days. Shortly after noon on Thursday, when the boys get out of their last exam, B and I will be leaving Iowa — he for the summer, and me forever. We’ll load up the car with his summer suitcases and my life ones, and head east. The first stop — it doesn’t feel right to call it a road trip, since our one stop is two days at a friend’s house, but I suppose it’s a road trip all the same — is at friend Rob’s house in Kentucky. On Friday, we will lay by his pool in the (forecasted!) 70-to-80 degree sunshine. That night, the rest of our friends from Iowa City will arrive and on Saturday, we will go to the Kentucky Derby. There will be floppy hats, horses, and mint juleps. We leave terribly early on Sunday for the ten-hour drive home to Virginia and will (fingers crossed!) arrive in time for Mother’s Day dinner. Monday is B’s birthday, Tuesday we train up to New York, Wednesday we fly to Paris, Thursday morning we arrive in Paris, Friday we train out and then right back in to see my family in Brittany for the day. Saturday, next Saturday, is when the commotion finally settles down and we roll into the rhythms of an extended week in Paris.

So there is a lot of hullabaloo on the horizon.

Luckily, my “Before Leaving” to-do list is in pretty good shape. The car has been duly inspected and repaired, mailing addresses changed, new checks ordered, bills paid, recycling dropped off. It’s really just packing left, and I am one of those blessed but rare souls who loves packing, unhesitatingly unpacks a just-packed bag to find a more efficient roll-and-fold configuration. I’m hoping that, for the last day or two here, I can just float.