Above is the St. Francis Xavier Basilica in Dyersville, Iowa.
The older I get, the more beautiful this place gets. Unlike myself, Iowa is a fine wine. I don't know how I missed it for two decades, but I managed. When I think about writing about my hometown, inevitably the first sentence is always something like, "I picture it in shades of brown and gray." I see dirty snowbanks covered in the filthy spray of thousands of spinning tires. I see dead branches hanging lifelessly from oak trees. I see my breath getting carried away by competing gusts of wind.
For some reason, I don't see centuries-old basilicas.
So, obviously, these pictures not being fictional renderings, I was wrong. There was something I was missing. Was it the ability to see beauty when unexpected? Was it the ability to just open my mind and give up my assumptions? Either way, this is the happiest I've ever been about being wrong. Hopefully, it's the first time of many. Well, sort of. You get it. Actually, unless you've ever been from a place you can be ashamed of, you might not.
Iowa pride aside, this is especially gratifying considering I've had this happen in multiple places. I remember sitting in my favorite cafe in Saigon, Mien Dong Thao, and thinking, "I remember when this used to be pretty." That realization saddened me at the time—does everything become dull with exposure? Does beauty require brevity? Though it took several years, at least now I know the answer is no. It may require absence, sure, but it's possible to get that novelty back. Thank God.
So here's the question I present to the world: where is somewhere you frequent that you've forgotten is beautiful? If it's more appropriate for you, who or what could also be substituted there, though I hope for your sake, it's not.
Or, a thought that's a little less terrifying, what's somewhere that you never thought was beautiful in the first place? I'll bet Iowa was on your list, huh?
It used to be on mine.