Iowa City is a happy place for my family.  I sound like my students with their writing, but it’s true.  It’s always been a fun place for us to visit, ever since my wife and I started dating.  Her aunt and uncle live down there and have for many years.

Before we had kids, they were the “fun” aunt and uncle, always pointing out something for us to do, inviting us down for the Iowa City Jazz Festival for our first time, and giving us an ear that our own parents would not. Their own kids are roughly our age, Melissa’s cousins, and they are some just awesome people.  Getting to know them has been a great addition to my own life, adding a flavor and texture that I’d never have otherwise.

As we became parents, their role changed for us.  They still stayed as the fun aunt and uncle, but also became a their third set of grandparents, spoiling them like no other.  Melissa and I would go shopping, our for dinner, to a movie, or sporting event without our daughters, a treat for ourselves.  Aunt Sharon would take the girls to a movie, to Build-a-Bear Workshop, or she’d take them to the Iowa City Library and they’d get to check out books and movies.  We’d come up, and our daughters would be snuggled in under blankets, drinking hot chocolate, each with a pile of books around them, happy as could be.  Sharon would be sitting near them, with her own book, and would look up, smile, and continue her own reading.  Charlie, her husband, is quieter than I am, so he just takes this all in with a smile on his own face.

Anyway, we are going to Iowa City this weekend, a tradition we’ve started a few years back, visiting the weekend before Christmas. Yes, it will be crazy and yes, there will be tons of people out.  Good.  I love the crowds, love the excitement, and miss that living where we are at.  I love the diversity, the different things and people around, soaking that into the pours of my tired, drained soul.  It will be nice to sleep in and not have to worry about dishes, cooking, or if my daughters have done their chores or not.  It’s like shedding out of a skin that doesn’t quite fit you, into a place where you feel at ease, that every word and action isn’t judged by those around, a place where you can just be you.  Nothing against the 80’s hit Cheers, but sometimes, it’s nice to go where no one knows your name! 🙂

My happy thought – Iowa City – a awesome college town and a great place for us to visit! 🙂