« Some Number of Days in March and April | Main | Missed Me. Neeners. »

My Beloved Little City

My apartment in Iowa City that year was near the corner of Burlington and South Johnson. It was a one bedroom in this really cool building with screened in porches in the front. Nice neighbors. Twisty hallways. A quirky little old landlady and her hulking, vaguely mentally disturbed husband. I was at the back of the building and had a view three stories down into the dirt parking lot and the ramshackle garage/shed reserved for the landlord's stuff, and a further view west toward downtown Iowa City.

But the coolest thing was it had a stainless steel kitchen. Like something out of Spacelab.

It was everything you'd want in an apartment in your final year of graduate school.

Summers in the Midwest mean, essentially, living in the Gulf of Mexico. The air is pretty much under very warm water. Glance out your window and watch trophy sized marlin swimming by.

On this particular day I was hanging around my apartment, reading or writing or something, I don't remember. I do remember having the radio on and hearing mention of a tornado watch. Yeah, yeah, whatever. I grew up in Seattle. I saw Mt. St. Helens erupting from afar. What's the big deal?

And then the sirens went off.

You sit there for a moment thinking, what are those? Are those sirens? Why are there sirens?

Beat. Beat.


Okay, so you get up and go to the window. Not a very smart thing to do when the sirens are going off, but what do you expect? I grew up in Seattle.

So, nothing out there. No tornadoes. But it did look a little... I dunno... a little green. The air was green. This fascinated me briefly, until I remembered hearing or reading somewhere that it's a very bad sign, in tornado-land, when the air turns green.

Jesus, I thought. Where am I going to go? My building, made entirely of old wood, was actually built on a steep hill. The front of the building was at street level. The back of the building, where I was, was probably 60 feet in the air.

There I was, practically in mid-air with a big old sign on my ass that said: "Take Me To Oz".

Deer. Headlights. Me.

I just stared out the window hoping, I guess, that I would at least get to experience the awe of seeing the tornado approach, just before it killed me.

After a few minutes, bored with the prospect of impending doom, I guess, I went into the bathroom and closed the door. I sat there on the edge of the bathtub. It was a nice big bathroom. I liked it. One of the best bathrooms I'd ever had and possibly the last place I would ever be.

But after a few more minutes, the sirens stopped. I came out of the bathroom and went back to the window. The air wasn't green anymore.

It missed Iowa City that day. I was glad. I loved Iowa City. It's a great college town. So many good memories of that place...

But it didn't miss Iowa City last night. Right through the heart of the city. Oh, man, my poor little college town with all my wonderful memories.

Only one fatality that I've heard of so far.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference My Beloved Little City:


Fucking hell! Did I know you spent time in Iowa City? Have we had this conversation? Am I having a middle-aged memory breakdown?

I lived in Iowa City from 1963 to 1967, ages 4 to 8. My youngest brother was born there. It's the scene of a lot of primal childhood memory, the university in particular.

LOL. Yeah, I think we had a brief conversation about it... maybe at one of those ancient gatherings at dba or something. Anyway, I do recall knowing you were a little squirt when you lived there.

I was talking to a school chum today about it and we were trying to figure out if there was a graph or something online about the path the tornado took. We couldn't quite figure out what part of town it went through. We know the Dairy Queen is gone so that helped a little but we couldn't figure out how it got from there over to the Catholic Church.

Lemme know if you run across something like that.

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

In Memory

May 2006

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      


  • Technorati search