Helen Hanff, the great woman who wrote 84, Charing Cross Road, quoted some guy who’d said: everyone goes to London with their very own image of what they’re going to find there, and everyone find exactly the London they’re looking for. I think it’s the same with the United States.
So this is the USA I’m looking for: small towns, size, craziness, originals, books and corn.
Things I wanted to see in Iowa: small towns. The library in Spencer that once had a library cat named Dewey Readmore Books. Corn. Soya beans as a back-up plan. So before the trip I talked about it with Carina.
She: “Who wants to see soya beans?”
Me: “I just didn’t want you to think I was unreasonable if we were driving around Iowa looking for corn fields and not finding them.”
Carina: “We’ll definitely see those corn fields”, and then it was settled.
I’ve liked Carina ever since she wrote me to say how much she liked my book. Flattery is such a good start of a friendship. But even so, it may seem a little bit extreme to book a trip to the USA without ever having met.
It happened like this (the conversation takes place on Facebook):
She: “I’m going to Minneapolis to attend some seminars. Wouldn’t it be fun if you came with me and spent your days driving over to Iowa?”
Me: “Sounds lovely, but unfortunately I don’t have a driver’s licence for cars.”
She: “I might have a meeting in New York on the following Tuesday, so I could take two days to drive you to Iowa.”
(My own business meetings tend to take place in cities like Örebro.)
Me: “You know I’m the kind of person who could take that seriously?”
She: Silence. More silence. Eventually: “How… nice.”
Me: “So when do you know if you’re going to NY?”
She: “I’ll… be in touch.”
So there you have it. Two days later we booked the tickets, and another week later we met for the first time to find out if the other one was a complete psycho. So far so good.