une semaine de la neige
Iowa was good to me. I have not been so happy in months. In the Cedar Rapids airport, at the little concession café where I had coffee and a bagel before braving the plane, they were selling "Barns of Iowa" posters, so of course I got one. Twenty glorious barns. They'll go next to the piano.
There was going to be a Valentine's Day party at the farmhouse (note: I don't know who that guy is or why he has farmhouse photos), but instead there was a blizzard. We sat, glad to be indoors by the radiator, and watched snow fall through the window. The flakes briefly glowed orange as they fell past the exterior light of the Lutheran church across the alley. Dinner was bits of cheese. The next day half a foot of snow was on the ground and we put on our coats and trudged through the white to the Hamburg Inn, where we ate French toast and leafed through sunny, misty, very green photos of Guatemala in a travel book.
For several reasons time seemed to stop while I was there; it felt as though I had never left the city. The little grid of streets was unchanged, the map of reference points by which we negotiated our small journeys (bookstore, restaurant, HandiMart) intact. Now and again I complain about having an itinerant existence, but there is something to be said for collecting cities; living here and there, you compile a little atlas of mental maps recording not just location and distance but the quality of light in various seasons, colors and smells, the vaporous imprint of happy times. The only difference was that I would constantly pass buildings where friends had lived and half-turn with the impulse to visit before remembering that they had gone: Chicago, New York, Europe. It was a strange dislocation.
I finished the Canterbury Tales on the airplane and the next month or so will be a long, hard push to finish this draft of the book. By now the manuscript is tied to a great unwieldy cargo of hopes. If I could come into a little money by September, I just might run off to Oregon.