Iowan by Choice

Discovered amidst a puddle-wonderful crowd at the grand opening this month: My sliver of yellow brick in the Des Moines Social Club courtyard.

Iowan by choice! — it says.


Part of me can’t believe it’s been seven years since I moved to Des Moines – late Memorial Day weekend, 2007 – and part of me feels like I’ve been here a lifetime. Somewhere along the line, I made a choice: I adopted Iowa.

My favorite nights in our city are when Des Moines feels like a small town with a glowing skyline. When all of the quirky characters, friends and neighbors from different corners mix, electrifying the atmosphere with a buzz of excitement for the moment: glorious summer Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s Market, sundown at the Arts Festival, the rainy finish line at the Relays road race or the opening of a venue designed to bring us all together. Sweep us in, swirl us through what’s possible when passion finds financing.


It was a stormy afternoon and then, as if on cue, a rainbow arched across the cloudy sky as I approached the Social Club on opening night.

Standing at the doorway was my dear friend Danny, bursting with good news. Up by the elevators, a friend from book club talking to another from my babysitting co-op. Two artists I know breezed behind me. Babies in carriers everywhere — and somewhere around, David Byrne!

I like that this is a family town. Later, a red ribbon snaked through the crowd and even my small son got to grab hold of a piece.


Des Moines is my home, it’s where I’m raising my child, but I still remember what it was like to be new and lonely in this place, surrounded by strangers. A true transplant, I’d moved here sight unseen. I can’t pinpoint when, exactly, the roots took hold , but it had a lot to do with the people who invited me in – to coffees and cake nights and adventures.

Development — urban or personal — it’s a long game we’re playing. Visions, plans, progress, dreams, reationships — it’s a slog. For every exhilarating, culminating day are thousands of days of tedium and redrawing plans. For every life-altering friendship, there are disagreements, dance parties, quiet porch conversations.

I commend everyone who is pouring their creativity into our city, making things happen, big and small. Introducing people. Joining forces. Brick by brick, friends.



First and third photo via #dsmcopening on Instgram


Filed under I love Des Moines

2 responses to “Iowan by Choice

  1. LP

    As a fellow DSM lover (and friend): Glad you chose Iowa. Love this post. xo

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