Sunday, June 24, 2012

Walk This World

So, I've spent a few very good days in America's heartland, and I completely get why this part of the country has earned that nickname.  I've only been here a few days and I strongly suspect that a part of my heart will always belong to this neck of the woods.

This probably comes as a shock, considering that I am as east coast as they come.

The people are just so.freaking.nice here.  Nice, and open, and friendly, and helpful.

This is a refreshing change from my time in charming east coast cities.  Don't get me wrong, I wear my misdirected rage with pride, but this is such a refreshing change.  I suspect that any person who would dress up like Cookie Monster in Iowa would be friendly monsters, and not tell me to blow him, like "Blow Me Cookie" in NYC once did.

Yes, that actually happened.  I was once propositioned by Cookie Monster.  Despite his generous offer, I declined.  What can I say?  I'm not a fan of overabundant body hair.

I'm sure that a major contributor to this trip being such a success is that I was traveling solo.  While I miss my people desperately, there's something about traveling without the protective armor of my people that enables me to be open to new experiences and new people in a way that I wouldn't have been if I were traveling with my (much beloved) crew.

It's cool--- in that, while I walked this part of the world by myself, I very rarely walked it alone.  I seemed to have picked up interesting companions that traveled nearly every segment with me.

My first night in town, I didn't pay attention to my clothing selection, and was wearing my Penn State shirt through the downtown area.  Brilliant.  Not only did I wear it in the heart of Big 10 Country (genius), but I also was proudly sporting it ON THE NIGHT THAT THE JERRY SANDUSKY VERDICT WAS READ.

Only me.

Suffice it to say that I was a conversation starter.

I came here to tell stories, and was humbly reminded that I am here to LISTEN to people's stories---to enjoy them, to learn from them, to experience them.  Amazing things happen when you shut up, open up and listen.

I'm not a "feelings" kind of person, but I will say that an open heart and an open mind definitely do facilitate wonderful experiences.  Somewhere in my chaotic life, I think I had forgotten that.

It's a good life.  It's a really good life.

Here's to Bernie from Iowa City, Beverly from Iowa City via St. Louis,  Mike the accountant turned cab driver, Joel who misses his kids from New Orleans, to my remarkable classmates.  I have learned from all of you.

Here's to the people who walk this world with me.  To those who walk with me on a permanent basis, and to those who just accompany me for a segment or two.  You all matter.  May I not again forget that.

With love,

PS- A huge thanks to everyone who sent notes of encouragement while I was here.  You know who you are, and now you know that it meant a ton to me.  You rock.

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