The Daily Iowan

Wooden: Farewell, Iowa

Iowa is a magical place. It is a place I never want to tell anyone about. It is home to roughly 3 million people. It is a place that feels like home.

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Glenn Sonnie Wooden Jr., [email protected]

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Iowa is one of the most underrated states I have ever been to.

In my opinion, it rivals New York, California, and Massachusetts for the best state. I’m sure the city slickers are appalled right now. They are probably wiggling in their seats, yelling insults at a computer screen about corn and pigs — the classic Iowa insults or stereotypes.

Not many people understand Iowa besides the natives of Iowa, and a few others (I include myself in this, obviously). There is an air here in Iowa that is crisp with work ethic and modesty.

This air has filled my lungs for three years.

My three years at Iowa took me all over the state. I went to Des Moines to cover Donald Trump’s campaign, Harper’s Ferry for a fraternity event, Davenport to visit the Figge, Cedar Rapids to see my aunt, Mount Pleasant, where I got off my first Amtrak ride, and finally, my all-time favorite spot — the World’s Largest Truck Stop. The stop serves as a marker for me, letting me know that I am almost home if I drive to Chicago or Iowa. Iowa feels like home.

I’ve begun to call Iowa home on certain occasions now. Iowa became a safe haven for me, someone, like many others, who is trying to find the right place for college. I attended four other universities (Miami of Ohio, DePaul, Columbia College of Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) before attending the University of Iowa.

When I crossed the state border and got to Iowa City, I felt calm. The people in town reminded me of my father and how he would dress — brown boots, a Carhartt fringed a bit at the hem, and some kind of hat or sunglasses depending on the day. This made higher education seem less pretentious and more accessible for someone like me, a lower-middle-class black kid from Chicago.

Even with Iowa’s conservative nature and other issues, issues oddly seem like they can be fixed here. It feels as though, the people of Iowa are shy, but they are constantly listening. Iowans are watching, and when they are not watching, they are working. Iowans at least try to make a difference.

Iowa is magical. I learned I was a bad lover in Iowa. I learned how to love in Iowa. I got help for my depression in Iowa. I met my best friends in Iowa. I became a writer in Iowa. I started my companies in Iowa. I got into an Ivy League university while in Iowa. I met all of my mentors in Iowa. I found myself in Iowa.

As I typed some of this at George’s Buffet in Iowa City, I couldn’t help but reflect. Behind me in a booth were two of my favorite people in the world. They sat there waiting for their gin and tonics and cheeseburgers while I sat at the bar staring at the broke Hamms beer sign. I found myself unable to get over the fact that I was at home. I did it; I started to become the man I have always wanted to be.

Today, I finish this article in downtown Chicago, where I can see the sliver of Lake Michigan. Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away” is on repeat from my iPhone, and my eyes are watering. I will never miss a place more than I miss Iowa. Nothing will ever beat the petrichor of the Iowa air, an Iowa sunset, and looking at the rows of corn. I will return home again. We will continue to beat State. I will continue to love you Iowa; I will never forget you. When I need you again, I will put on my Carhartt, stare at the horizon, and remember my Midwestern values. Until next time. On Iowa. Go Hawks!

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