07/28/04: Steve's Conclusion

I've got nuthin' again, so... I bring you the conclusion of our feature, Steve Weatherman: Iowa Boy.



STEVE WEATHERMAN: IOWA BOY

July 28rd, 2004

Dear All,

Today, my final full day in my home state of Iowa, I slipped away from my parents for a while and visited some special places around town.  They were busy reading the paper and giving a cursory reading of their daily script: Gas prices are going up! There's a sale on ground beef at Fareway! Boy, they sure got Highway 69 all tore up! Blah, blah, blah!

I went to the church where I was a member as I grew up and recalled Christmas services there with my family.  I especially conjured up memories of my grandma, Alma, who was so dear to me that it is difficult to explain.  When I was a child stuck in a family, town and state that really didn't understand someone like me, my grandma welcomed me without knowing or caring how I was different.  She only knew I was her grandson.  That was enough.  She was never unkind, always patient, loving and selfless.  I visited the house where she lived her whole married life and then I visited her grave in the country.  I pulled some small weeds and felt the words carved deep into the stone.  Even though she died when I was ten years old, she still tugs on my soul from thousands of miles away in Delaware.  She always has been, and continues to be, my magnetic North.  It is she who draws me to the Midwest... not my mother or father, siblings, corn dogs, soy beans or rolling prairies filled with green.  Don't get me wrong this trip serves many purposes, not the least of which is keeping my parents out of the Mid-Atlantic states; my trip out here prevents their trip to see me.  I'm here for a different reason.  It is her.

At this point, I must point out that I'm short funny material where my grandma is concerned.  Most of the foibles and blunders I describe come from human short-comings and eccentricities.  She had so few that it's difficult to know where to begin.  Except to echo what St. Julian of Norwich so gracefully said centuries ago, "In my beginning is my end; in my end is my beginning." So, even though I have had to put up with small-mindedness, pettiness, white trash, grape soda and everything fried in grease, there is a symmetry that lives in this cycle of mine: go, return, go, return, go, return.  It is as if I'm called to evoke some great thing here, or unlock a mystery, but all my powers seem gone here in this place and can't find the words to the spell that's supposed to make all the pieces fit...all my pieces fit.  I feel small here and don't have full command of all my powers.

Well, I haven't found the combination to this, my personal conundrum, but I have emptied an entire bottle of Malox (lemon flavored) and the contents of the small flask I packed in my luggage (Bailey's Irish Cream).  I am going home or I am leaving home, depending on how you look at it.  I did, however, snatch a copy of Martha Stewart's Living from that Laundro-mat and have read a few of its features.

In these last few days I have come to realize that Martha and I have a lot in common (besides wild ambition and unbridled greed).  She tries to restore order and grace to a world that seems to have slipped into something more comfortable...like Kraft Easy Mac.  Perhaps if she uses the proper ingredients in her Plum Pudding those memories of a Christmas long ago will come alive again.  Maybe if she teaches young people how to make Victorian Valentines of ribbon and lace, she can give them the kind of care-free life that could be described years later as "The Good Old Days."

In these last few days here on the prairie I have tried in many and various ways to restore some order and grace to my life.  I have visited old friends and family and gone to special places and listened again to conversations spoken by people who died decades ago.  I sang at my grandma's grave and walked through a corn field.  I went to the Twin Cities and visited my old college in Forest City.  I roasted marshmallows over a campfire and peed behind a grain silo.  I swam in a lake and chased away raccoons.  I did almost everything I could think of to make all the pieces fit and make the magic happen.   But Baby, there is no way in hell I'm gonna make a four-story Victorian Gingerbread House with a copper-leafed roof and candy windows! Martha...you're out of your fucking mind.

Aloha. I am outta this shizzle.  Meet me at Stanley's.

-Steve We.
Your Iowa Boy




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