I've been avoiding putting up this last blog, partially because it means my adventure is really over, and partially because I didn't want to reveal too much. Why would you buy the book if you already know the ending? So here's a smidgen of what happened on date #50 . . .
I’d been looking forward to dating Mr. Iowa since the very beginning of the journey. When I’d sent out a Facebook message to all of my friends, two separate people had recommended this guy. I’d friended him on Facebook and then worried the entire trip that he’d meet someone in the meantime and not be available to be my Mr. Iowa. He was funny. He was attractive. He was Lutheran. What’s not to love?
The day I actually got to Iowa was blustery. It started snowing about an hour from my destination, and I was thankful the journey was almost over. I’d had to tolerate some rain and cold through the South when I’d started back in the spring, but for the most part I’d had good weather for traveling, which is important when you’re driving a Toyota Corolla. It’s not exactly known for being a beast on snow and ice.
I stopped by a gas station, filled the tank, and used what had to be the dirtiest bathroom in Iowa. I started thinking that a website rating bathrooms across the country might have been another service I could have provided while driving around the country, but it was too late now. I shopped around and took my selections up to the counter: orange juice, DayQuil, cough drops, and tissues. I’m pretty sure the cashier went hunting for some hand sanitizer as soon as I walked away.
As I neared the meeting spot with Mr. Iowa, I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time. Seriously? Nervousness? Me? I’d stopped getting nervous about thirty states and dates ago. Maybe this one, my last date of the fifty, was someone special.
“Don’t have such high expectations,” my Chief Safety Officer advised me when I called her to let her know where I’d be. “You’re bound to be disappointed if you go into it expecting too much. Although how perfect would that be, if the man of your dreams grew up just down the road from you but you had to travel all fifty states before you found him? That would be such a perfect ending.”
Yeah, thanks, Alicia. That really helped lower my expectations.
I met Mr. Iowa at a Panera Bread. He was tall and handsome, and he seemed a little nervous, too. We ordered hot chocolates and sat chit-chatting for a few minutes. Then we needed to get going to the Haitian Vodou Drum Circle, a very non-Iowa activity. It was just a mile or so down the road, but we had an issue in the parking lot. Remember my little choking incident at the Husker game? Yeah. Repeat it in Iowa.
I still had half of my hot chocolate left, so when I started coughing, I took a sip, hoping it would help. No such luck. I could sense it was just going to get worse. I flailed at Mr. Iowa, trying to get him to take my cup, but he wasn’t looking at me. I hit him to get his attention, handed it off, and then doubled over. Super attractive. Soon I was crying, my nose was running, but I still wasn’t done coughing. I felt like an idiot. And I really wanted to impress this guy! It started to subside, and I motioned for the hot chocolate back. And then immediately sloshed it on myself. Could this situation get any worse?
Once inside, Mr. Iowa pointed me in the direction of the bathroom where I tried to clean myself up. I was not giving him a good first impression. I just prayed I wouldn’t have another coughing fit in the auditorium. And that we were in aisle seats, just in case. When I came out, he had the tickets.
“I was just faking the coughing,” I said. “That was my little ploy to get you to buy the tickets.”
We found our seats and settled in for the Vodou drums. I loved it. Three men drummed and sang, and one woman alternated between singing back-up vocals and dancing. The lead guy would talk between songs about Haiti. I tried not to giggle, thinking how much my parents would hate it.
“I can’t understand a word he’s saying,” my dad would complain. My mom would be more bothered by the dancer’s skin-tight tank top.
“Can’t they afford bras in Haiti?” she’d ask. She’d probably rally the church ladies to donate their castoffs to ship down there.
My parents aren’t all that interested in culture. My sister said they watched Dora the Explorer for months with the grandkids before one turned to the other and said, “I think she’s Hispanic.” What was it that tipped you off?
The drumming didn’t last nearly long enough. I didn’t want the date to be over yet. Mr. Iowa suggested dinner, though, so off we went. That went too fast, too.
“Megamind?” he suggested. He said he loved animated movies, and that one was playing in the local theater. Me? Not so much.
“Do you like wine?” he tried. Oh yeah. Way more than kiddie movies. Turns out one of Mr. Iowa’s hobbies is winemaking. And since he was a friend of my friends and likely not a murderer, we went to his place.
And that's where I'm going to leave you hanging. :) Thanks for reading all these blogs over the last few months! I'm finishing up the book now and then I'll be shopping around for an agent. Hopefully it will one day come together in book form, but even if it doesn't, I had one heck of an adventure!