13 Weekends

A blog about memory & summer by Matt Raw

Brooklyn, Iowa

“You’ll fall behind!” Wink warned, after hearing that I had yet to start this week’s entry.

It was Tuesday night, we’re in Iowa, and Wink and I were helping Craig prepare dinner. Perhaps aware of my write-on-Monday, design-on-Tuesday schedule, she had asked whether this week’s post had been written. It hadn’t. Shrimp guts on my hands, my attention anywhere but this blog, I offered up what seemed to me like a good plan—I’d combine this weekend and the next into a single epic post! Our trip to Iowa spans two weekends, so the cutoff between weekends is basically arbitrary, right? But on further reflection, Wink was just as right at 60 as she was at 59 and so I’m sitting down after a plentiful seafood dinner (this is Iowa, after all), while Les Miserables thunders behind me, in an environment rich with distraction, to check in from the road.

In a nutshell, here’s what happens every time we make the Brooklyn to Iowa trip: we fill our time with as many family and friends as we can, have at least one or two significant conversations about our future, and end the week emotionally exhausted. Any significant thinking tends to happen on the fly and unexpectedly. Before breakfast, while waiting for the French press to do its magic. In the car driving to our next gig. Right before we leave for the airport. Small moments like those.

This week is no exception. The pace leaves little time for reflection and reflection is ultimately what makes writing a blog rewarding. Reflection provides the connective tissue between thoughts—otherwise it’s just one damn post after another.

I’ve listed what happened in weekend #10 in the sidebar—it’s literally what happened, for the record. Mentally, this is how I start every week’s post. However, I haven’t had a chance to consider how you might read it, or what might be the most interesting or captivating or poignant things within that list.

This is often the case when we travel to Iowa, there’s no time to pause and reflect. It’s ironic, I suppose, to come to Iowa in August, where the pace should never be slower and easier—this is butter cow’s time of year, for God’s sake, what could be more leisurely than that?—only to have our days completely filled with activity. I love it, don’t get me wrong. Each trip is emotionally charged, a tangle of family, old friends, a flurry of what-if conversations about the future. It’s the opposite of a week in Martha’s Vineyard. But, without my 15 minute walks to and from the G train every morning, there’s little time for on-the-fly reflection. In uptown Marion, it’s surprisingly easy to fall behind.

I’ll end with an anecdote that I think is meaningful in some way but I can’t figure out why. Every time we’re back, we end up meeting someone we haven’t seen for years or someone we’ve never met before—someone who doesn’t know much about us or what we’re up to. We dutifully explain that we’re living and working in Brooklyn, and carefully lay out the pros and cons of such an absurd life choice. But the moment we mention Brooklyn, the reaction is always the same. The listener politely lets us finish our sentence then in a curious tone asks, “Iowa?” in reference to tiny Brooklyn, Iowa, the Community of Flags. It’s the least improbable Brooklyn, is all I can figure.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Maggie found some beautifully set and letterpress printed books of Harry Duncan’s that we absolutely must look through.

Weekend 10

Thursday night

  • Indian takeout and homebrew with Chris & Julia.
  • Robert and Jill, just off the plane from SF, join the four of us at our place.
  • Charlotte goes to bed pretty late, but we don’t think much of it (this is the gun on the wall in the first scene, not to put too fine a point on it).

Friday

  • Maggie prints a last minute wedding invitation job at The Arm in Williamsburg.
  • Meanwhile, Charlotte and I meet up with Robert & Jill on the Lower East Side, we walk up to Nicky’s to get banh mi for lunch.
  • Robert accidentally sprays sriracha all over me; Charlotte declares our sandwich “too spicy,” then spots a giant dead roach on its back in the restaurant—welcome to NYC, R & J.
  • The four of us take the train up to Central Park, where a sweaty, fussy Charlotte demands to see carousels and eat bananas.
  • After the park, we split up, clean up, meet up with Mags, hop back on trains, and converge on Roberta’s for pizza and beers with everyone involved with Mike & Jenny’s wedding.
  • Charlotte goes to bed very late.

Saturday

  • I push 7 gallons of homebrew in our granny cart over to the brewshop for cellaring; no one I pass on the street bats an eyelash.
  • Maggie leaves early to get ready for the wedding with the rest of the bridesmaids.
  • Charlotte, napless, gets into her party dress, I don my suit, and we hop into a car and head to the Brooklyn Historical Society for Mike & Jenny’s wedding.
  • We arrive and meet Mags. Charlotte is not herself, unusually clingy, and bursting into tears when either one of us is momentarily out of sight.
  • The wedding begins. Maggie walks down the aisle with Charlotte. Charlotte spots me sitting on the aisle (I am reading a passage later in the ceremony), screams “Daddy!” and begins to cry uncontrollably.
  • Musicians are playing an unforgettably lovely version of “Hallelujah” on guitar and cello while Charlotte points and wails at me. After Jenny passes by me with her dad on her arm, I give Maggie the head shake and she darts out.
  • Maggie misses the wedding while attending to Charlotte.
  • Everyone heads to Bubby’s for dinner and dancing (I had the fried chicken and was happier than I’ve ever been).
  • We dance until midnight, Charlotte awake for almost the entire time.
  • The three of us collapse in bed really very late, a little before 1.

Sunday

  • Awake at 6am for a 9am flight to Cedar Rapids.
  • Charlotte flies well, sleeping for parts of both flights. She calls planes boats and clouds steam.
  • We arrive in Cedar Rapids in the early afternoon and report to the Gallery.
  • Charlotte puts her party dress back on and we celebrate Wink’s 60th birthday.
  • Zoey’s—one Chicago style, one New York style. Bed.

2 Responses to Brooklyn, Iowa

  1. anna says:

    Matt, I love this! Our visits to Eastern Iowa (and SW Wisco) are much the same … speed dating family and friends … always an emotional rollarcoaster.