I'm back from a great trip home. A few highlights:
* Seeing a bunch of old theater friends in a spectacular production of La Cage aux Folles. I'm so proud of everyone for doing such a great job clomping (in heels, no less) through unfamiliar territory like drag shows and potential public scorn. Iowa has more than its share of thumper wackos (whose obesession with all things gay often prompts them to turn out in anti-gay protest of things that aren't even gay), but the director of the show said there wasn't even a peep from that corner about this fabulous drag musical.
* Seeing a bunch more theater friends in the audience. It was a homecoming reunion to beat all homecoming reunions.
* Being the hero to my 4-year-old nephew. A kid's love is so genuine and so unquestioning, and it's such a moving gift to receive. But he LOVES to sleep with Uncle Jake whenever I visit. And he's a kicker. So his love can also be exhausting. (I'm still working on being a hero to my 20-month-old niece. She sat on my lap once and she handed me her prize bunny once during my visit. So I'm making progress.)
* Hanging out with my family. I'm so lucky to be related to such cool people. I always enjoy their company, and the time always flies by whenever I visit.
* Visiting my friends Dave and Carol and watching their daughter camp it up in front of me. She definitely got the performing gene from her parents, and she's ADORABLE. (Not as adorable as my niece—nobody could ever be—but you probably already knew that.)
* Seeing my ex, Jeff. He's such a great guy and we had such a good run together. But our breakup let me move to Chicago and find a sense of personal and professional happiness I never knew I could have when I was in Iowa. And he seems genuinely happy with his new beau, Matt, so I'm looking at our whole history as win-win.
* Running through my old haunts to satisfy my waning interest in running the Chicago Marathon. Cedar Rapids was hit with a devastating storm a week ago, and many of its grand old trees now lie in piles at the curb -- so the old neighborhoods look markedly different. But the city is still a beautiful place, and so much of it is filled with happy memories for me.
* Shopping in malls where people smile and act friendly and don't pull things off shelves and drop them on the floor if they don't want them. And in Cedar Rapids, there are things in my size on the racks and savings in my pocket every time I head back to my car. Woo-hoo!