Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Into the Fold

My Future Mother-in-Law got a taste of Iowa politics yesterday morning when the three of us joined fifty or so other Democrats in a rally for Barack Obama at a local pizza parlor. We had front-row bar-stool seats and got to shake hands with the region’s congressman, the lieutenant governor, the governor, and longstanding senator Tom Harkin, plus all their spouses.

The whole affair made me nostalgic for my politically active days—back in the early nineties before I was old enough to vote. It's definitely not heaven, but there is something about this place... or maybe it's just that I grew up here—and that’s why I care about ethanol and hog lots and river contamination from farm run-off to a degree I can’t seem to reach in Seattle? I care about logging and shipyards and Boeing—just not enough to want to get involved. When I’m in Iowa, I can see myself running for office. In Seattle, I can see myself... voting on a fairly regular basis. Should I move back? Raise my kids here? Show them how to live passionately connected, involved lives? Teach them the value of hard work via mowing and raking and shoveling and then mowing again? Would Dr. FiancĂ© and I go insane in a town of 60,000 people that never gets any good movies and where the best coffee is (I'm sorry, but you try living in Seattle for six years and see if you don't become a coffee snob) Starbucks? Or would we live in—god help us—Des Moines, a town of 194,000 that never gets any good movies and where the best coffee is (again, apologies) Starbucks?

My Future Mother-in-Law called from her hotel this morning to ask if we’d seen the college paper? She’d gone to the market for a copy of the New York Times and got distracted by the Daily Iowan. There on the front page, sitting on bar stools and smiling up at Iowa's favorite senator were Dr. FiancĂ©, his mom, and me, tightly clutching paper cups of not-strong-enough coffee, but other than that, blending quite nicely with the locals. In town for 36 hours and already on the front page of the local paper. God, I love Iowa—especially when I'm just visiting.

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