I accepted my internship in Arlington Heights last summer knowing the commute from the city would be the most arduous part. Unwilling to live in the suburbs, I found a location near a Metra stop and settled with the comfort that I would have plenty of time for books, naps and music.

While the number of books I got through was less than hoped and napping on the train proved to be nerve-racking, I went through about 500 songs a week over the summer. Fallback favorites — Freelance Whales, Frightened Rabbit, Death Cab, The Weepies, Phoenix, Mates of State, and Rogue Wave — and new discoveries like Mumford & Sons, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes and Coconut Records created a soundtrack to my summer that now permeate every memory I have of the city. “Lasso” matched the beat of my step as I walked home in the evenings; “Walcott” is similarly named like my favorite street in my neighborhood; “Generator First Floor” is and will always feel like waking up and finding myself in Chicago; and I will never forget the way “Casimir Pulaski Day” crescendoed perfectly as the skyline came into view while I pulled into Ogilvie for the first time.

Here I am.
Band of Horses played their first-ever show in Des Moines on Friday. They played theirBand of Horses at Val Air Ballroom set — warm, woody, vocals a little bit raw — with images of deer and fields and sky in the background. Wistfully (and understandably), Matt said he wanted to take a tent and see some mountains. Briefly, I thought about train rides and a garden apartment on a quiet street in Andersonville.

But it’s funny, because in a sea of plaid, under a haze of marijuana smoke, I was exactly where I was meant to be on Friday night. I was exactly where I wanted to be: with two friends watching an amazing show in the middle of Iowa.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still think about Chicago. I’d be lying if I said my visit in the last weekend of October hasn’t been on my calendar and on my mind since I scheduled it in August. But while the music permeates my memories, my memories don’t permeate the music anymore.
It’s October now. The leaves are turning. Des Moines is lovely this time of year. And I’m making another soundtrack.