I had a wonderful time visiting in Iowa, in case you couldn’t tell by my tweets. It would be impossible for me to recap the whole trip, so I thought I’d settle for sharing a few highlights and photos.
The second night we were there, we all went out Christmas caroling. I’d never been before. Have you? In my head, I was picturing a bunch of well-dressed Victorians with matching fur hats and muffs, singing perfectly in tune while adorable chipmunks perched beside them. Actual Christmas caroling, as it turns out, is nothing like this. Basically, it was the whole family plus all their friends. We got a few people together, drove around from one farm to another, picking up more people as we went. At each house, we drank all their beer, ate all their snacks, laughed and joked around for about an hour, did a shot of Rum Chata, and then moved on to the next house. It was awesome. At one house, flush with the joy brought to me by sampling the family’s homemade wine (“wineshine”), I determined that we had to move to Iowa so we could do this all the time. I would write for the local paper, I said. He could coach wrestling at the high school. It would be totally cool. Oh, and the best thing about caroling, perhaps, was that all the 16-17-year old kids had to be designated drivers for the grownups — just an item for your “pro” column on the “whether to have kids” question.
Speaking of drinking, do you know what a lot of Iowans drink with dinner? Not beer or wine, but milk. Just a big old glass of milk. At least a pint or so. Only, in Iowa, it’s called “melk.” Just say that out loud. MELK. For breakfast, it’s not “bagels,” but “baggles.” And they say I have an accent.
Have I ever told you about my nightmarish attempts at downhill skiing? I may not have. The short story is this: I had a couple of nightmarish experiences trying to learn downhill skiing. It involved a lot of falling trying to get off the lift, falling while skiing, falling directly in front of a snow machine, and sitting on my ass crying. Downhill skiing is not my friend. But cross-country skiing, on the other hand, is lovely. The family has a few sets of cross-country skis and there was a lot of snowy land to explore right outside their front door, so out we went. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but after 15 minutes or so (during which time I probably fell down about 10 times, seriously what is wrong with me?) I was moving and grooving. We had so much fun! It was me, CW, and his 12-year-old niece (who was also a first-timer but who picked up on it much faster than I did). I think we were out circling around the fields for a good hour or so. If I lived in a snowy climate, you can bet I’d be outside cross-country skiing all winter long. Such a fun way to exercise and enjoy my favorite season and favorite weather — and delightfully free from the accursed chair lifts I hate so much.
All in all, I met my boyfriends parents, siblings, niece and nephew, grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins’ kids. I met a few of his high school friends and even his old wrestling coach. Everyone was absolutely delightful — super nice and welcoming to me and really fun to hang out with. The only awkward moment that happened actually turned out to be hilarious in retrospect. So I guess I’ll tell you:
After the big night of caroling, all of us stopped into a small local bar for a couple of beers before heading home. We just happened to run into two of CW’s high school friends who were already there, so it wound up being a fun cap on the end of an already great night. So I happen to be standing around talking in a little group that included this girl my boyfriend went to high school with and his high school wrestling coach. Girl is talking to me about CW, all, “did you know he was State Champ?” and I’m all, “Yeah, I know, so cool!” And she’s all, “And so-and-so here was his coach,” and I’m like, “I know!”
I guess this was not the right answer (not enthusiastic enough? should I have acted like this was new information? I’d been hanging out with Coach all night already) but Girl just rolls her eyes at me and sighs, “You don’t get it.” And then she did not talk to me for the rest of the night. It was definitely a weird moment, but it eventually just turned into a running joke for the rest of the trip and we all had a good laugh about whther or not I really “get” how awesome it is to be The State Champ’s girlfriend. (Trust me; I do.)
Oh, and if anyone was following along on the candy I made and brought, it went over well — lots of compliments! I also did a little holiday photo session for them while the whole family was together so they could have some snaps for their New Year’s card. It always makes me happy to be able to use what skills I have to do something nice for people.
Now, however, I’m back in Alabama, land of humid, 60º winters, and it’s back to reality. School starts next week and I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m also back on a healthy eating and exercise plan, which I’ll tell you more about soon. (It does not involve any baggles or melk.)