I am paying my final visits to those I have come to know and love out here, this week. I moved out of my apartment the day before my week-long stay in Texas and into JoAnn’s home, where she has kindly invited me to stay my last few days in the great state of Iowa. There is no better word to describe what I am facing now, than “bittersweet.” As I leave the place I have grown to love, and reminisce about all of the fun times and great memories I’ve had and wonderful people I’ve met, I am reminded that I will be returning home to beloved friends and family that I will get to share all of these experiences with. I am so looking forward to holding my newborn nephew, Wyatt, for the first time; my dog, Posse, knocking me down when he sees me; Toledos, Jimbo’s, Luna’s, Woody’s, Cattleman’s, Logan’s Fat Jacks and Dog House; Mom and Dad’s cooking; sitting at the kitchen table with my parents and sharing with them over a cup of coffee the details about my summer; hugs and kisses from nieces and nephew(s); the smell of the feed store; my bed; simply driving down familiar streets; annoying Mom; hanging out with friends; customers at the recycling center and feed store; Fresno State.
Today, I bought the most fitting souvenir, to remember my amazing experiences by. It is a painting of a couple on a beach looking out into the water. And in large letters it says: “Lake Panorama. Memories you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.”
After making this purchase, and driving down main street for what I know will be one of the last times, memories of my summer filled my mind, noting the first time I looked down on the lake from the balcony of my hotel room my first day in Panora; the time I accidentally had too much of Bob’s “rocketfuel”; getting to pet the baby fawn; seeing fireflies for the first time; sitting on the front porch listening to the music of Bob Cook; finding a dandelion the size of a softball; a silent stroll through the cemetery; sleepless nights at the expense of summer storms; the solitude of my own apartment; humid air coming through the screen door; meeting JoAnn for the first time; the sound of the race cars circling the track; swinging from a rope into Louise’s pond; John’s steaks, Bob’s pork chops; The margarita’s I made when Cara came to visit; the smell of the fertilized fields; rising dust trailing vehicles down dirt roads; golden sun glistening off the tops of the corn stalks and bean fields; the way they dance in the wind; the friendly wave of every passerby in their vehicle; little baby, the black kitten, at JoAnn’s back door; walking Living History Farms with Janelle; Becky asking Doc, the bartender, about his moustache; uncontrollably laughing with Brooke during an endless game of uno; playing charades with complete strangers, who instantly made me feel like I belonged; the boat ride; the mechanical bull at Uncle Buck’s; John playing his 12-string guitar; meeting Nate at the tiki bar; my last night at the Port with Luke. The memories are endless, this journey is winding to an end, but I am certain, there’s another around the bend, waiting to begin.