Farewell to the Midwest, Cheers to the Next Chapter

“I am a visitor here. I am not permanent.”

I have been writing this “goodbye, Iowa/reflections on Cedar Rapids” post for a year now. But now as I actually am leaving, this is a lot harder than I imagined. I am THRILLED to be going home to Phoenix. I am not thrilled to be leaving Cedar Rapids. I don’t think I ever thought I’d miss this place. But I already do.

When I first started writing this months ago, it was easy. Leaving was anticipated and expected – but not yet in my reach. Now I sit here on my air mattress and it’s really happening, and the thought of it all is just finally hitting me.

When I moved to Iowa in August 2010, I knew I was in for a major shock. I was moving somewhere so fundamentally different from the life I had always known. The culture, the climate, the pace of life. Nothing was on par with me. But something about the City of Five Season charmed me… I liked it and I wasn’t too sure why. I now can say I know. More on that later.

It has not always been easy for me to live in Cedar Rapids. There are a lot of things that have been taxing on my heart and mind and being. The bitter cold, the lack of a good public transit system, the poorly engineered streets, and the overnight hours all shaved some time off my life. —

But as I look back on the last two years, in between the overnight shifts, the morning shows,  and the crying, I forged some incredible friendships. Ones that will last a lifetime. And after them, there are a lot of other things I will always miss: The lazy Sundays when I had to go back to bed just hours after I woke up, the crunch of the Autumn leaves under my boots, the air that can be so hard to breathe, the sound of rain on my windows, the adrenaline of the TV9 newsroom, the long sunsets and the laughter. The true small lazy towns with “squares” in the middle, the powerful July sun that makes my forehead pink, the sound of the bugs in summertime, the farmers’ markets on summer Saturdays, and the long nights at White Star with the whole gang down the table.

The people of Iowa love their heartland. It’s an allegiance unlike one I’ve ever seen. The loyalty is admirable – they truly bleed black and gold here. I’ll miss the sounds of coffee cups clanking at Hy-Vee early in the morning, the old men reading the Gazette and recounting their war stories. I love the stories I’ve helped tell, I love how people are truly invested in their communities and how much they care.

I think everyone who knows me (in Iowa and beyond) knew that I was never going to stay here permanently. But I’ve grown to get used to – and even love (some things about) Iowa, as I’ve recounted.

….

But my time here is done.

This is my coming of age story. I met friends for life under the barren trees and gray skies. I learned more in the last two years here than I’ve ever learned before. I’ve lost dozens of pounds and changed my entire outlook on my life and my health. There is something to be said for all of that. I’ve also learned the true meaning of exhaustion, the true meaning of love, and the true meaning of being a part of a team. All of these things I will carry with me into my next endeavor and beyond, that’s for certain.

I will miss the morning show team  (past and present)  more than anything. They’ve shaped me every day  – made me a better person in my professional and personal life. I can’t thank the team enough for believing in me, for understanding my insane visions, and for making me want to challenge myself each and every overnight. I wouldn’t have survived these two years without their leadership, openness, and love. They embraced this west coast/southwestern girl and took me in with open arms and hearts. I will never forget their kindness and compassion during the toughest of days.

You know, this business is so odd – in that it brings you to places you never thought you’d go – let alone live – and truly come to enjoy. I am so grateful for the time I spent here. I’ll remember these months as some of the greatest of my life, filled with pride, laughter, and growth.

And so, I move on to the next chapter. Better, wiser, thicker-skinned. Iowa in the rear-view mirror. I never thought I’d be moving back to where I moved from, but I am so happy that’s where I am going.

“I am on my way back to where I started.”

To be continued.

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