Tag Archives: Iowa

in which i am surrounded by corn and stillness


A long time ago, I saw a play with my family called “The Curious Savage1.” You might have heard of it, because it’s pretty great and mildly well known. I don’t actually remember much about the play itself, other than generally enjoying it, and this one particularly line, which has been quoted in my family ever since;

“People say ‘I love you’ all the time – when they say, ‘Take an umbrella, it’s raining,’ or ‘Hurry back,’ or even ‘Watch out, you’ll break your neck.’ There are hundreds of ways of wording it — you just have to listen for it.”

This past weekend, I was told “I love you” more times than I could count.

Do you need an extra blanket on the bed, my grandma wants to know.

Did you have enough to eat, my uncle asks after every meal.

You can pick what we watch2, my aunt tells me.

We worry when you take the four-wheeler out, says grandma.

Will you play goblins with me, begs my seven-year-old cousin3.

If you remember from the last time we spoke, I spent this past weekend at my grandparent’s farm in rural Iowa. We did the math, and discovered that I haven’t been there since 2003. And yet, it was like I never left. Sure, the kids are all a foot taller, the adults are all a little paunchier, and there’s new tile in the bathroom, but the things that matter, like the underlying theme of every interaction I have with my family, hasn’t changed.

The Iowa where my grandparent’s farm is located is about as far from a Chicago atmosphere as you can get. It’s so remote that the silence rings4. My dad, who grew up there, went to a one room school house5, and lived his first eighteen years without running water. When my grandma and I were driving to the cemetery, we passed a guy on a motorcycle. As we drove away, my grandma commented, “He must have been from out of town – he didn’t wave.”

And, while I love living in a city that never stops moving, it was nice to be part of stillness for a few days. To have a horizon with a vanishing point. To listen to the corn whisper.

To be surrounded by people who love you, even if they don’t always know how to say it. They don’t have to.

Passing around polaroids and telling stories on the living room floor says it all.

  1. Yes, I get it, pretty much every blog post so far is based upon unoriginal thought, or references some play or book or something. I promise I am capable of coming up with my own ideas!
  2. I chose Masterpiece Mystery, the best hour and a half of television every week. The program this week may have been the least frightening police drama in the history of police dramas and yet it still scared me to the point of sleeping with the light on.
  3. She also told me, when I asked her where she wanted to run away to, “Chicago to be with you!” And I just about died of cuteness.
  4. And, as it occurred to me after watching the aforementioned unscary British police show, it is the kind of remote that is the ideal setting for a horror film.
  5. Not a joke.  A straight-up Little House on the Prairie style one room school house. I visited it on Sunday, since it’s now a museum. It looks like this.

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