THE BLOG
10/17/2013 10:55 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Io-What?!? When I Moved to Iowa

Imagine sitting down at your dinner table, something you have done over one thousand times. You can recall each detail of this table; brown, little engravings from when you used to sit and do your homework there every day after school until you were in high school, the stickiness due to the hot summer air and because you forgot to clean it but told your mom you did. My sisters and I sat around this table one Wednesday night and we received the news of a lifetime: "We are moving to Iowa!"

I should have seen the news coming. The signs were very obvious but I came to another conclusion that night. The week before, my parents went on a romantic weekend to Des Moines, Iowa. My mom goes there every month for her job because that is where the headquarters are. I thought my parents just wanted a nice weekend away, maybe to look at the various cornfields Iowa is well known for. My dad came back that Monday but my mom had to stay to work. When he came back he took down our old trampoline and when I asked him why he said it was an eyesore and we didn't use it. That seemed legit.

That same day after watching Law and Order SVU for two hours, I went upstairs and found my bed made and my shoes thrown into a corner. Being that I am a hormonal teenage girl who has seen too many scary movies I did what any other girl would do; I grabbed my dog, my phone and proceeded to call my mom and tell her I thought an intruder had been in my room. Of course her response was that "Oh, I think dad was looking for something. And you know he can be a little weird." That made sense too.

The next day was when I should have been suspicious. Two interior designers came to the house and said that my dad had hired them as a surprise for my mom. The last couple of weeks my mom had been shopping on overstock.com for throw pillows. I didn't really think twice about it. In fact, I made a note not to say anything to my mom about it. That same day, before my dad had left for work, he took down all the magnets and memos on the corkboard and refrigerator. He had also written a list as to why our neighborhood was so great. I turned over the list and saw that he had used a scrap paper to write on. The scrap was titled "How to Name a Baby." Everything had clicked.

I woke up Wednesday morning giddy because I knew my mom was coming home and I knew she had a big surprise. My dad woke me up and asked me to wear a shirt that said Des Moines, Iowa, and later that day when we sat around the table, the very familiar table I grew up with, and I told everyone my theory. "MOM, YOU'RE PREGNANT!!!" She wasn't pregnant. (The baby names thing was from a video series she was working on.) We actually were moving to Iowa in three weeks and that Sunday (a week after I had gotten my permit) I was going to drive out with my dad in one of our cars to leave it at our aunt's house in Iowa City.

I think I'm going to skip the part where I said my goodbyes to all my friends, not because they aren't important, but I want to tell you the differences between Des Moines and New Jersey. First, there is an actual city here. I'm serious, Google it. There are giant office and industrial buildings, which are cool and totally proved the image I had in my head wrong. (I had this fear that we would get there and there would be a diner and a couple of barns, so you could imagine my surprise to find cool architecture and great restaurants instead.) Next, the public school kids dress really well. When I went back-to-school shopping, my mom talked me out of a dress with cats on it; but seeing the different styles I feel like I should have bought it. Thirdly, after 5:00, downtown is empty. Everyone goes home to their families and the town is empty. It's like the scene in The Walking Dead where Rick goes into the giant city and everyone is gone; it's weird, but a good weird. And finally, they pump their own gas. In New Jersey it is illegal to pump your own gas, so you can imagine how much trouble I had the first time I "pumped," and I don't mean my fist.

Finally, I will answer the most frequently asked question I am asked. "Do you like it better here?" The truth is that I like them both. Iowa and New Jersey are extremely different but it's always good to have a change. I think it will all work out and this is just a new chapter in an adventure I am in called life.

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
Life hacks and juicy stories to get you through the week.