It's been 21 years since I first set foot in Iowa City. My cousin Elizabeth was having a 90th birthday party in Des Moines, so I flew in for that, took the Greyhound bus to Iowa City to look for an apartment, went back to Des Moines to pick up my enormous duffle bag filled with I-don't-know-what-all, and came back. I took the cheapest apartment I saw, which was at Black's Gaslight Village, and then I went to yard sales to buy furniture. My bed was two kids beds pushed together (about as comfortable as it sounds). My memory is that I carried them in pieces to my apartment. I do remember lugging an armchair blocks and blocks, stopping every now and then to rest. I wanted to sit down in it on street corners to catch my breath, but was too self-conscious.
That apartment was a very strange space. It must have been an old porch. You walked in, and there was a galley kitchen to the left, and a storage space to the right. Three steps down to the sunken living room, which had a concrete floor. Behind that was the bathroom with its elevated toilet (for some obscure plumping reason, it sat on a small platform) and inadequate wall. I slept in a room-sized loft overlooking everything. There was a skylight. A year later, when I moved out, a neighbor said to me, "Yes: it will be nice for you to live somewhere where people can't see everything you do through your skylight." I'd decided tp leave when I woke up one morning and heard my neighbor crying very, very quietly in her kitchen. I stayed in bed a long time that morning.
21 years later, Edward and I are teaching here for the last time. In January, we'll move to Austin, where I've accepted a job at the University of Texas. I'm tremendously excited about that, and very nostalgic about my last time in The City of Iowa City. & it feels right (though tremendously annoying) that our first lodgings this semeste fell through, and so we had to outfit a house from the ground up.
I am now nearly twice as old as I was the first time I moved here.