That was the note I received in August of 1966, as I was about to head off to college in Denver.
I sank in my chair, wondering what a prepette from Delaware could possibly have in common with a hayseed from Iowa. Would she have bib overalls on? Would she talk about her corn fields or know how to yell suuuue-eeeee to pigs?
Well folks, was I ever wrong. Way wrong. About meeting a girl from Iowa. And about Iowa itself.
She arrived in her groovy Mustang convertible, carrying tons of pieces of matched luggage. Come to find out that the closest she’s come to a farm is on a county fair hayride and from the first day, we became fast friends, inseparable friends, laugh-til-it-aches friends, and best of all, friends still today, Forty-Six years later.
Our room was pretty big by dorm standards and we each decorated our side with posters and photos. Not so many books! If you look closely at the left side of the room, you’ll see that Diana had a photo of her high school boyfriend on the window sill, the man she would marry after graduation and with whom she has shared a fabulous marriage for over 40 years.
But there were times when we cleaned up, usually on Friday’s as we drove to the University of Denver for fraternity parties. [No photos of that, thankfully!!] And yes, I did put a skirt on before I went out!
As the years passed, I found myself looking forward to my twice-yearly travels to Davenport. Diana and her husband Tom settled back to their roots there after living in California and Maryland while Tom served his country in the Army in the early 1970s.
One time driving the 15-hour journey alone from Martha’s Vineyard, I had a flat tire at 3am in Gary, Indiana. This was back in the 1970s because I remember I had a Jeep Wagoneer which had the spare tire under the carriage. No cell phones then and no one to call, I stopped and prayed a bit that someone nice would stop. A trucker did. He struggled getting the spare off because all the salt air of living on Chappy caused the bolts holding the spare to rust, but he changed my tire, refused to take any money, and I went on my way. Would I do that again today? Heck no. From then on, I opted to fly, into the Quad-Cities Airport, all two runways, trying to forget the few awful white-knuckle flights on Albatross Air’s twin-prop planes. Now it’s the Quad Cities INTERNATIONAL airport, with United and American flying full-fledged jets. Yes, jets land in Iowa.
I quickly and happily became an Iowan, not by actual residence, but in heart and soul. Loving the change of pace from the east coast. Loving the scenery. Loving all the people I met. I know my way around as if I had lived there all these years.
Most of all I’ve loved sharing everyday Iowa life with Diana as she and Tom raised two extraordinary boys in the same neighborhood of Davenport both of them knew in the 1950s. Times weren’t always simple for either of us, but no matter where our conversation left off (in the days way before email or free long distance calling plans), we managed to pick it up again, once at the kitchen table gabbing over a slice (or two) of chocolate silk pie made by the locally famous Village Inn.
Tom and Diana enjoy life to the fullest, almost finished building a perfect retirement cabin in North Carolina for themselves to get away from those long cold Iowa winters and to have a place for the kids and grand-kids to romp. We even convinced them to create The EOS Suite, so happily, Mr. EOS and I find ourselves adding another state to our regular visiting loops. By the way guys, Christmas there this year works for us.
This is a very long and round-about way of wishing my dear friend Diana a Happy 65th Birthday this weekend. Three cheers to knowing what friendship is all about and putting up with me for all these years, not to mention teaching me so much about the Iowa that has been your home for so many of those 65 years!
I love you dearly.