Opinion » Bill Cope

Iowa (Ugh) Bound

Been waiting for this a long time

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Let's see. Six days. That's three pairs of socks. Maybe two. I don't sweat as much as I used to. I'd probably get by with four shirts, long as I'm careful with the coffee and the wine and such. Pants? Uh, I'll start with a pair of shorts, a pair of jeans and a pair of dress-up slacks. Wish I knew how dressed up I should be for the ceremony. What if I show up in a tie and coat, and every other guy there is in bibs and rubber boots? Could happen. It is Iowa, after all.

If I run low on something, I could slip into a Walmart and pick up whatever it takes to get me through. But gad, I don't even want to think about what a Walmart in Iowa must be like. Wouldn't surprise me to find out that guy who does those movies about cannibal hillbillies got the original idea in an Iowa Walmart.

Come to think of it, maybe I should pack a bottle of Purell. And Lysol. Don't want to gamble on those things being available in Iowa, do we? And while I'm at it...

Oh! You're here already. Sorry. I didn't realize I had readers yet. I was just musing about what I'll need for my trip. Please excuse me if I mused something I shouldn't be musing in mixed company. Like those cracks about Iowa?... hey, don't get all knockered up if you happen to like Iowa for some reason. I actually have family in Iowa. Some second cousins, or something. My mom's parents came here from Iowa. I'm sure Iowa has a lot going for it. And just because Grandma and Grandpa couldn't wait to get the hell out of Iowa doesn't mean it doesn't have its share of commendable qualities. Probably.

So now you're wondering why on Earth anyone would go there. Especially me, who won't even travel from Meridian into Boise if I don't have at least three unavoidable reason to go. Well, folks, I have an unavoidable reason to go. Just one, but it's a big 'un. I've got a graduation to go to. A college graduation. My daughter made it! Yaaaah! By this time two weeks from now, she'll have a bachelor's to hang on her wall.

You don't know how proud I am of her. That degree didn't come easy, but she hung on. Five years. Never let it slip away. Wrassled it down and pinned it. You just can't know how proud I am of her.

From the very beginning of my stay with Boise Weekly, I included my kid in my writing. She was 5 years old when I first used her as either the subject itself or a gateway to other subjects. Schools, obviously. Christmas plays, Molly the dog, the live chickens she once won in a raffle, her first case of the croup, her first piano recital, her first band concert, her first date, her first prom, her first job, her first this, her first that. By the time she left for college, I'd done more than 40 columns that she was either central to, or a large part of.

However, I haven't written about her on these pages since we drove her up to Moscow and dropped her off. Fall of 2008. I was proud of her that day, too. Thing is, a big (perhaps selfish) element of that pride was how she was following, if not in my footsteps precisely, then very near to them. I have never remembered my years in that gentle Palouse Brigadoon with anything but pleasure, and I have always been proud of being a University of Idaho alum. I was one happy daddy knowing that she, too, would be a U of I alum.

But at the same time, I decided I had wrung from her every drop of column juice I could. She was no longer just my kid, but a young lady. It had been a long time since she mispronounced spaghetti "pizzghetti," or raced around in OshKoshes (b'gosh). Her wide-eyed wonder had turned to sophisticated curiosity and dogged diligence. Her teenage angst years were behind her and she was eager to make her own decisions.

Of all the subjects I have ever written about, she had been my favorite, with no close second. But now, her life, her experiences, her tastes and her choices, her ups and downs and blues and joys, were all hers. One hundred percent hers. I felt like I would have been intruding to use her any more.

So I didn't tell you when, after three years in Moscow, she transferred out of my lovely alma mater and went to Iowa. I'll tell you now that we fought over it. I'll tell you now that we didn't speak for weeks over it. Not because I insisted she stay put, or that she would have refused to comply if I had, but because I was so fearful.

It terrified me to think she was going to be so far away that I couldn't jump in a car and be there in a few hours, should something happen. I was angry that she was doing that to me, to her mother, and she was angry I wasn't yet trusting her to take care of herself, should something happen.

Weeks, we didn't talk. Then, I think, we both realized that we were at the jagged edge of a wound that might turn unhealable if we let it continue. I realized, I think, that I had no choice but to trust her, from then on, on every matter, no matter what, and to trust that I had done all I could to raise her into a trustable person. And she realized, I think, that she couldn't go any longer without talking to her daddy.

Anyway, here I am, two years later, getting ready to fly to Iowa to watch her walk the stage. I suspect by the time I see her with that Iowa sheepskin in her hand, I'll have forgotten that I'd rather it had happened in Moscow. Or that we went weeks without talking. Or that there was ever a moment in our lives when I wasn't anything but proud of her.

Still... Iowa! I probably should throw in a few of those filter masks, too. You know, just in case we're stuck next door to a pig farm.

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