Greetings from Iowa, Again

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I'm currently in the library of my second favorite alma mater (I only have two), the University of Iowa. I'm here for a conference called NonfictioNow, which I attended two years ago. I can't believe how hip Iowa City has become! The university and the city are clearly awash in money, in ways they just weren't in the 90s. There is lots of new construction and the whole place reeks of affluence (which of course smells much better than poverty). In addition to the Java House, there are other coffee houses everywhere.

I'm not as excited about the conference this year--it hasn't been quite as magical as it was last year, perhaps because the amazing Pico Iyer isn't here there year. Not that it has been bad, by any means.... The first conference just had so much energy, was such a pleasure to attend. I'm enjoying myself and have heard some great panels, but it's not, well, magical like I said. And I am a little freaked out by how much Iowa City has changed. I lived in the most wonderful house when I was here, a marvelous arts and crafts home on the edge of downtown, and while it's still there, three houses on the block have been torn down to make way for a parking lot, and the garden I so lovingly planted is a hideous mess of weeds.

I'm writing this after ditching out on a panel that turned out to be a disappointing and boring account of stuff I already knew. But lunch is coming up, so I will head off for that.

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Two years ago, on a cross-country drive from Pennsylvania to Colorado, I stopped in Iowa City for lunch and a coffee at the Java House. I think I even checked my email at the very library you write from. It was indeed a lovely city, for someone passing through as I was. I can remember how it looked well enough that I can probably guess how you would feel on seeing it as a place you lived undergoing a transformation. Denver -- where I grew up -- feels that way to me: places I hung out have become way too upscale; open fields are now suburban housing developments. I'm very sorry about your garden. Here's hoping the rest of your conference gets a bit of magic in it!

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on November 2, 2007 11:45 AM.

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