One day during my senior year of high school, as I was buried under a mountain of college pamphlets and application paperwork, my dad approached me to talk about a school one of his co-workers told him I should consider. Although I had explicitly told him that I refused, under any and all circumstances, to attend a school in Iowa, he got it in his head that this Drake University place might be a good fit.

“Drake?” I thought. “I’m pretty sure that’s in North Carolina…”

Well, long story short, my dad was right. Not only was Drake the perfect fit, but I also fell in love with Des Moines somewhere along the way. And when I graduated last May, there was no question in my mind that I wanted stay in Des Moines to start my career. Like most recent grads, I briefly tossed around the idea of going back home to Minnesota, if only to save some money for a few months. In the end, though, I decided that Des Moines was the place to be. And not to toot my own horn, but I think I was right this time.

All of the recognition and shout-outs Des Moines has received over the past year don’t even begin to describe why I love this city. Sure, it was great to be recognized by the “Today” show for being the “richest” city in America. And I won’t argue with Forbes for saying we’re the No. 1 city for young professionals, either. Nor will I dispute Paste magazine ranking the East Village among the top 10 most stylish “undercover neighborhoods” in the country. But I digress. 

It was a strange feeling when my parents started calling Des Moines my home. I’ll admit I resisted it at first. Most college students have a hard time getting their parents to acknowledge that they don’t live at home anymore, and here I was feeling like I was getting unceremoniously booted out the door. That’s when I realized my parents could see something I hadn’t figured out yet: Des Moines had become so much more than a college town to me. Des Moines is where I landed my first internship. It’s where I rented my first apartment (word to the wise – never sublease an attic apartment with no air conditioning over the summer). It’s where I got my car towed for the first time and my first speeding ticket (luckily not in the same day). 

I was raised in Minnesota, so I know it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. Perhaps, if the world experiences a dramatic climate shift, I’ll even consider moving back to the Twin Cities someday. But I did a whole lot of growing up in Des Moines, too. I sometimes talk about Des Moines as if it’s a person; it’s both quirky and down-to-earth, innovative and homey. I’ve always felt safe to try new things and even fail at those things here, which isn’t something I can say with confidence about many cities around the country. I have never visited or lived in a place quite like Des Moines, and I’m so proud to call it my home.

Hope you’re happy, dad.

Annika Peick
Graphic Designer, Business Record