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The Expatriates

May 30, 2008 - Wes Burns
People leave Iowa. You can ask anybody; the Governor, the high tech industry, even your neighborhood curmudgeon will tell you that a large percentage of young Iowans will leave the state the second they can. These are the expatriate Iowans. People who full well accept their Iowa roots but would rather asphyxiate than have one more drink at the Corner Tap.

For the record I would like to say that I both love and respect the Corner Tap as the high water mark of social clubs in Marshalltown.

The expatriates have a myriad of reasons for leaving, each as unique as the person themselves. Perhaps it was a work opportunity, maybe family obligations, or moving to be with a spouse. Chief among the list is boredom. The kind of crushing boredom that can only be overcome by a radical change in both scenery and lifestyle.

That's all well and good but there is a problem. If every expatriate who leaves has their own unique, snowflake like reason then why do they all end up in the same places? In my years of exhaustive research there are three major hot-spots for displaced Iowans:

COLORADO: What is it about this state that draws so many of Iowa's young people? Its still in the midwest, the culture is pretty much the same, its really not all that different. And before I become inundated with angry letters smelling of patchouli and trust fund money I will agree that yes, you can go skiing in Colorado. Great.

OREGON: This makes even less sense than Colorado. At least in Colorado you get some drastically different elevation, Oregon is just a hippied version of Washington state minus the cultural relevance. A delicate combination of Liberal Arts majors, garage band drummers and anachronistic mountain-folk Oregon is a land of contrasts; as in the contrast between the color of American Spirit cigarette boxes with the lush greens and browns of the available Starbucks. If you're going to move here be prepared to raise your beat poetry tolerance much more than you ever imagined.

NEW YORK: This is the latest one. Los Angeles was in the running for the third spot, as was Seattle but helping two of my friends pack up to move to New York this weekend pushed the Big Apple over the edge. At least with New York I can understand the difference. Giant, towering skyscrapers is a bit of a scenery change from the ranch homes of Marshalltown. Don't get me wrong, when I'm standing in the shadow of the Tallcorn Towers I feel as metropolitan as any city dweller, but I can understand their point.

If any of you are interested in moving away from Iowa might I suggest Plano, Texas? Or Atlanta? Maybe London? If we keep sending our young to just these three locations we're going to quickly find ourselves hearing stories of eating a Maid-Rite on a ski lift or "Little Iowa" enclaves emerging in Brooklyn.

To the expatriates out their that might be reading this I will leave you with a message: Iowa misses you. But if you continue to live outside our borders please do all you can to dispel the notion that Iowans are a bunch of hicks because the last thing I want in my travels around the United States is to be asked if I have an outhouse.

 
 

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