Surprised by Des Moines

Des Moines has taught me an invaluable lesson since arriving here from Minneapolis less than one year ago: the importance of being open to surprises.

I never imagined myself living in Des Moines. In fact, I never really thought of the city in one way or the other. However, when my wife and I found out we were expecting, it became painfully obvious we had changes to make. At the time, she was running a popular vintage store in a hip area of town. I was busy doing online marketing at a large non-profit and desperately trying to figure out how to keep that job while continuing work on a media philosophy Ph.D I was pursuing in Switzerland. Life was crazy.

That’s when Des Moines came into the picture. By some strange fate, the vast majority of my wife’s family ended up residing here. Considering the difficulty we were having at the time handling our two cats, we definitely knew we would need help raising our child. We also knew we probably couldn’t afford a decent place for our child to live in Minneapolis (our neighbors at the time were a different kind of Latin King than the one famous here in Des Moines). When we made our decision to join her family, our friends and co-workers looked at us like we had lost our minds. “You’re going to Des Moines? To live? Really?” So it was with a good amount of trepidation that we bid them farewell and headed southward.

And so this city began teaching us its lesson. I remember our first time in the East Village and our surprise at all the amazing shops and restaurants. Or the truly “entirely unexpected” afternoon at the Des Moines Art Center. Or grinning ear to ear as we carried home a bag full of surprisingly delicious Iowa cheeses and meats from the Cheese Shop. Or how warmly our neighbors and new-found friends have welcomed us here. More universally, I can also attest to surprise at how all-consuming, yet wonderful, being a parent is. As for what this city has in store next, we’re now open to it.

 Speaking of surprises, one of the most pleasant ones in Des Moines is the Lunch Unplugged concert series. Smack-dab in the middle of a hectic work day, you can pull yourself away from your computer, let your eyes adjust to sunlight for a few minutes, and take a brisk walk (or drive) to the stunning Temple Theater. There you will enjoy world-class performances featuring everything from opera to bluegrass. Tell us about some of the ways Des Moines has surprised you and you’ll be surprised with a free ticket to any Lunch Unplugged concert (for the first five commenters), courtesy of my employer and presenting sponsor, Mercy College of Health Sciences.


 Michael Sapiro is the Online Marketing Specialist at Mercy College of Health Sciences and occasional consultant for non-profits and small businesses. He lives with his wife, daughter, and two cats in the surprisingly charming Waveland Park neighborhood. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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