The hubster and I are on the road again, heading back to visit a small town in rural Iowa where we used to live in another life, long, long ago and far, far away. It’s where we first met one another and fell in love twenty one years ago, where we belonged to an eclectic and tight knit community of other odd, dysfunctional, and hopelessly idealistic souls, and where we had more fun and comical adventures trying to save the world than anyone has a right to.
We left fifteen years ago now and even though we’re happy and thriving in the life we’ve built for ourselves back west, and even though we’ve both changed and grown in significant ways since we left, and even though we’re not even sure if we’ll fit in there anymore still…we’ve both had the feeling while planning this trip that we’re heading home.
Is that even possible? The expectation makes me a little nervous.
But we flew into St. Louis yesterday, picked up the rental car, and as soon as we hit the open countryside I started to cry. I tried to hide it from Cal but he could tell anyway. He can always tell. He loves it when I’m melting.
I couldn’t help it. I looked out across a gently rolling landscape of hickory and cottonwood trees, alternating prairie and farmlands and constantly changing sky, and felt like I’d just crawled back into my mother’s lap. I had a flashback to when I first arrived in the Midwest nearly thirty five years ago and it was like slipping back into the life of somebody else I knew a long time ago. Someone I’d almost forgotten but, it turns out, still care about deeply.
Back at seventeen years old I was already a refugee from life, broken and barely functioning, in desperate need of someplace safe, gentle, and friendly where I could just exist for a while. Haul my battered boat into dry dock and recover before I started trying to patch some of the gaping holes in the hull. Rest, unknot, and stop shaking. Unhunch my shoulders. Unclench my fists and my heart.
And there was Fairfield, the brand new home of Maharishi International University and a center for the blossoming T.M. movement. It attracted a small, strange, and dynamic clutch of assorted souls around whom a community started to grow. It was pretty commune-like back then with its mix of flower children and liberal intellectuals leftover from the 60’s, but most importantly for me, it was drug and violence free. The thinking of the place was devoted to all the usual things like world peace and unconditional love, vegetarianism and organic food, but also veered way outside the box into things as diverse as only stirring a pot clockwise to keep the food pure and trying to learn how to fly all together in big groups (without a plane.)
I know it sounds weird and a lot of it really, really was, (and still is for that matter), but the intentions were always good and the creativity and imagination unleashed there were rampant. It’s intoxicating stuff, living way off the map like that, and it can really nourish one’s ability to entertain and pursue possibilities that most people wouldn’t consider. A lot of the things we tried didn’t work of course, but enough did, and a handful worked brilliantly only in completely different ways than anyone anticipated.
Cal and I eventually left fifteen years ago and during that time the community continued to evolve in wild, wacky, and surprisingly productive ways. It’s produced a bewildering array of tech companies, has become a regional force for sustainability, has spun off a small satellite village that is completely off the grid, and built a convention center (in a town of not quite 10,000 people) that supports a thriving artistic community. Who would have thought, all those years ago, that this project of lofty ideals would last at all, much less turn into what it is today. I guess passion, if it’s deep and lasting enough, can help make up for a host of other flaws.
So anyway, we’re back here for two weeks and I thought I’d post about some of the oddities and inspiration we encounter along the way. So far, last night we ran into a woman who started her own church for the feminine face of God, I discovered there’s an Energy Healing Master/Teacher coming to town next weekend who’s going to be staying here at the B&B with us and holding his sessions here (that should be interesting since we weren’t told anything about it!), and the weekend after that there are Grandmothers from the indigenous cultures of Tibet, Nepal, Africa, and Central, South and North America all converging here for a women’s conference.
Never a dull moment.
copyright 2010 Dia Osborn