Today marks the halfway point of my #923roadtrip. I’m 20 days into my 40-day journey, and I’m halfway across America. I’m staying out in the country in central Iowa, with my aunt Julie, in the house she, my mom and their other four siblings grew up in.
It makes me nostalgic to be here. Most summers when I was growing up, my family would make the drive from southern Indiana to Iowa. We’d always sing “I-o-wa, I-o-wa, the land where the tall corn grows” as we crossed the Mississippi River into the state where my parents each grew up.
The past week was not the easiest; despite my repeated efforts to remind myself to relax, I could not. The goal of this trip is to reach as many 923 Oaks as possible within a 40-day window. I have not heard back from most of the 923 Oak residents I’ve contacted so far, and despite my unrealistic expectations of a 50%+ response rate right off the bat, it bums me out. Especially when I am driving through places where I know there are 923 Oaks, but they haven’t agreed to meet with me. ESPECIALLY when I’m driving through a place where someone initially agreed to meet with me, but then never responded back to several follow-ups.
The hardest part, though, was wanting to maximize my visits with 923 Oak residents and just not knowing where to go next. And despite my desire to be spontaneous and carefree, I am not that girl right now. (If I were independently wealthy and didn’t have a goal to achieve within a limited time frame, I think I would enjoy trying.)
So I came up with a new plan. Thanks in part to a surprise visit from my friend Beth, who drove down to Nashville to stay with me for a couple days. Spending time with her helped to snap me out of my funk and inspired me to make the most of this journey.
So my new paradigm is this: just enjoy the journey. If I happen to meet with some 923 Oaks, awesome. But it is no longer the primary goal. I can come back to visit with more people. This is only the beginning. Things happen as they should. (You’ve heard it before and I’m sure you’ll hear it again. How many times will I need to repeat this to myself?)
To top it off, I happen to be in town at for a big event tonight: a bunch of people are coming over to Julie’s house for a fish fry, honoring her late husband (my Uncle Terry). I’ll get to see family I haven’t seen in years and meet new people — I am prepared for a night of belly laughs.
And tomorrow is a 923 Oak visit in northwest Iowa, during which I will bake a cake with Faye, a spunky grandmother of 20. She invited me to stay for supper.
That is Iowa, people.
And that is what this project is all about.