Amy writes peppily in her diary, celebrating her one-month anniversary in Missouri. Although Amy misses New York, and though she, Nick, and their cat Bleecker are having some fits and starts adjusting to their new home, Amy is taking a kind of anthropologic joy in learning about her new hometown with the guidance of Nick’s mother, Maureen. At a housewarming party thrown in their honor by Maureen and some friends, Amy is shocked by everyone’s niceness, and finds herself struggling to come up with things to say.
Amy arrives in the Midwest with an open heart and mind. She is curious about her surroundings, and hopeful that she can have a nice life here, just like she had in New York. She’s willing to do her part to make sure that she and Nick stay together and appear happy to everyone else.
Though Amy delights in bulk shopping at Costco and marvels at the “cheap and easy” casserole recipes Maureen’s friends constantly send her, she does feel strange in Carthage. She thinks that Nick “has decided on a version of [her] that doesn’t exist.” She’s invested money in his and Go’s bar, participated in the community and tried to make friends, and even been kind to Nicks’ volatile, Alzheimer’s-ridden father Bill—but nothing she does seems like enough.
In both their separate timelines, Nick and Amy both admit to feeling like copies of themselves—they are not, at their cores, exactly who their spouse thinks they are.
Towards the end of the housewarming party, Bill has a fit and begins cursing at Amy, claiming she doesn’t belong in the house and calling her a “dumb bitch.” As he screams again and again about how Amy doesn’t belong, she walks out of the party and into the rain, stunned and a little bit creeped out by the truth of Bill’s words. She waits in the rain for Nick to come outside and comfort her, but he does not.
Bill’s Alzheimer’s, which leads him to terrible and misogynistic outbursts, frightens Amy—and foreshadows the mounting misogyny she is yet to face in the story of her time in Missouri.