This February, I’m doing #LoveMe, a challenge designed to help you learn to love yourself! One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be kinder and more gentle to myself, so I’m trying to be as positive as I can possibly be in 2017 and hope that doing this challenge will be good for my mental health and overall well-being. Check out my previous #LoveMe posts here!
Today’s prompt is:
Something that feeds your soul.
I love where I live right now: Iowa City, IA. (Is that enough Iowa for you? No, wait, it gets even better, because the school I attend is the University of Iowa. IOWA INTENSIFIES.)
When I decided where to go to college, I had no idea just how much this town would feed my soul.
For a start, it’s an intensely literary place. As a UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City always has something going on. Readings, open mic nights, lectures and book signings by acclaimed authors. There are quotes from famous books carved into the sidewalks, for heaven’s sake.
There are so many bookstores here that, for the first time in my life, I’ve put myself on a book-buying ban. (Which I’ve already broken… I think. Is it still cheating if I used a gift certificate to get a copy of Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel?) NON-CHAIN BOOKSTORES, which means that curling up in a chair and reading for hours as though you live there is actually encouraged.
And the writing! Oh, the writing! There’s the lovely group that I’m a part of, the Iowa Writers’ House, and a bunch of little local publications (including some produced by students at the university), and tons of free or cheap workshops throughout the year.
Iowa City is a super accepting, activist-minded place, too, which is just perfect for me. Just about every week there’s some sort of rally or protest or social justice-oriented workshop. I may not feel comfortable in my extremely conservative home state of Indiana, but I definitely do here. (I realize that the rest of Iowa is not necessarily like this, but… I’m quite content in this nice little accepting bubble where I reside right now.)
I truly believe that deciding to attend school in this town is a major contributing factor to the blossoming of my LGBTQ+ identity. I can count the number of people I’m out to in my hometown who aren’t my immediate family on one hand, but I can be myself around others here. It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing there are so many people I feel safe around.
When people ask me what my plans are after college – where I’d like to go, what I’d like to do – I say that although I obviously don’t have all the details figured out yet, I’d be perfectly happy to stay here in Iowa City for at least a few years after graduation.
When I moved out and headed off to college in August 2015, I thought I would be homesick all the time. I’m not, though, and I wasn’t. I never was. Iowa City felt just right and it quickly became my home. In fact, I consider it more of a home to me than the town in which I was born and grew up.