Sunday, March 02, 2008

What I Will Miss

Pin It In the winter, on sunny days, mothers look out the window with determination, and say, "Yes, definitely, go outside," and after a solid half an hour of prep time, finding snowboots and putting on mittens and zipping up jackets, their children head out to play. They build igloos and snow forts and run to the park to sled down the high slope by the baseball diamond. They make snowmen and snow angels until they are too cold to bear it any longer and then they rush into the house with red fingers and noses, to sit by the fire until they are cozy.

In the early spring, they come out, dressed in layers and mittens and gradually casting off clothing throughout the day as they slosh through the waterlogged grass. They dig in the muddy sandbox and poke through the melting piles of slush, discovering toys long hidden under the snow, mixing up magic potions of leaves and early flower buds, and hours later, coming inside with sunburned cheeks, sad because it's starting to snow.

A month later, the flowers start to appear, tulips and crocus and daffodils, and they can’t resist picking them, the first flowers they’ve seen in the yard in months, picking them and bringing them to their mothers. “For you, mom,” they say benevolently, and they wait for a hug and a kiss from a mother who is delighted by the gift (despite her chagrin over the rapidly dwindling supply of unpicked flowers). They play all day long on Saturday, packs of children, pretending to be the Boxcar children or magical fairies, or pirates ("Mom, tell her I don't have to walk the plank!"). They help in the yard, where we plant lavender and penstemon and daisies, and they look at me skeptically as we plant vegetables, not quite sure if they should believe me when I tell them this little pebble of a seed will one day be a cornstalk.

On Saturday, there is soccer, every field and park in town full to the brim with children and their families, children who aren't quite sure if they are running toward the right goal, who lose concentration when they get the ball as they glance up to make sure their parents are watching. On Sunday after church, families are out together, on walks and bike rides around the neighborhood, parents stopping every few feet to talk to people they’ve barely seen all winter as the children urge them forward ("Come ON Dad").

In summer, mothers send their children into the backyard ("Go on, go out and play") and the kids find each other, congregating and planning the morning's mischief as mothers sneak off to check their email, to make a phone call, to read a newspaper, to do the dishes. They play all morning, running through sprinklers and wading pools, discovering neighborhood pets, building dams in the stream at the park, fading over to the shade of porch swings by noon, and disappearing into the house during the hottest part of the day.

They creep back out again in the late afternoon, riding bikes and scooters and trying out skates, knocking on doors to remind their friends that it's time to come outside again. They find a zucchini in the garden and then an onion or maybe a green bean, and vegetables have never been so exciting before. In the evening it’s beautiful out, and we turn on the flood lights, not yet ready for the kids to come in, not quite ready to go in ourselves. The adults congregate in little clumps, talking and gossiping and laughing while the kids race around, squeezing in a few more minutes, a few more minutes ("Hurry before we have to go inside"). I look around at my friends, at my family and stand there thinking, I will always remember this.

In late autumn we pick pumpkins and put the garden to bed and get things ready for winter. We savor the last few warm days before winter comes and spend more time than usual outside, soaking it up, letting them play, letting them enjoy each other’s company. Little arrangements appear on front porches, hay bales and pumpkins and autumn flowers and baskets of apples. We visit pumpkin patches and go on hay rides and run through corn mazes. We plan costumes and on Halloween night, we go around the block and down the street, collecting candy at every door, (except the scary ones with haunted houses, because my kids aren’t quite that brave, at least not quite yet). We hand out eight bags of candy and have to shut off the lights at eight-thirty, because my husband is NOT going back to the store.

The first snow falls, and we are happy, because we made it to November with no snow, and maybe it will be a mild winter, after all (high hopes, quickly dashed). Cabin fever has not yet struck, so we enjoy looking out the window at the huge snowflakes as they come falling softly down, and we drink hot chocolate and put on Christmas music, even though it’s really far too early. We drag out snow boots and mittens and snow pants and a few minutes later, the thin layer of snow in the yard has been obliterated by overly enthusiastic children, who are ready, once again, to make snow angels.

And in Las Vegas, there won't be this, not all of this, but there will be shorts in February and swimming in October and eggs to fry on a piece of tinfoil on the sidewalk in August and it will be different, but it will still be fine - it will be just fine (at least this is what I remind myself when I'm feeling maudlin). Because as it turns out, forts work just as well when you make them with cardboard boxes, popsicles taste even better when it's 114 out, and you can still make perfectly good snow angels in a sandbox.

Life will still be sweet, because there is always sweetness to be found when you look for it, but I will always remember this part of our lives, when we lived for a time in a Norman Rockwell painting.


  1. Aaagh - I'm sorry, Sue! And I'm jealous - kids actually play outside during the day during the summer there? Here, everyone is in camps, or summer schools, or inside watching TV or playing video games. My poor kids rarely have anyone to play with when I kick them out the door.

    Living in Las Vegas should be very bloggable, now that I am thinking about it...

  2. You're such a good mommy, Sue. I got all misty reading this one, because it speaks your heart, and the fact that you did everything to ensure that your children would have that 'Norman Rockwell' slice of life there. It wasn't necessarily the place, but the parents who made the very best of their time in it that made it so wonderful, and has permanently imprinted on your children's minds wonderful, beautiful Kodachrome childhood memories.

    That was absolutely beautiful writing, Sue...I felt like I was there. Sounds like your town was a wonderful place to have had the privilege to live even for a while, but I have no doubt that you will do whatever it takes to make the best of things in your new home, too.

    And hey, I live just a couple of hours away from the Vegas area, and though it's a desert, and seems kind of meh in comparison to where you've been...there are wonderful things about these places, too. Especially for mom's that will do fun stuff like fry an egg on tinfoil in the hot weather, lol! All this time we've lived here and NEVER tried that one!

  3. Anonymous11:03 AM

    I wanna live where you live.

  4. I'm with Veronica. Can I come live in your neighborhood???

  5. Well, I know of a house for sale...

  6. Lovely, lovely piece, Sue.

    I loved that about Utah, too--kids everywhere, playing outside together all day long. I loved that my daughter's best friend lived next door and we had our own path in the snow to their house, because we walked back and forth so often, asking her to play, playing at her house.

    But Las Vegas will be nice, too. I have great childhood memories of Las Vegas--partly because they are mostly with my siblings. We didn't have many neighbors (alright, no neighbors) with children so we played together. And we loved it.

    I hope you have a good move--it's so hard to enjoy moving even under the best of circumstances!

  7. a running joke in our family is using "really, I'm fine" when that is the exact opposite of the way you feel inside.

    As in a really crappy day when all the little stuff has built up and my precious child is having a meltdown in her room (because she is exhausted) about some tiny thing and there are tears in my eyes as I try to put some dinner together. My husband arrives from work and senses that things are not what he wanted to come home to after a long days work. And he asks "are you okay?" and I answer "fine". He looks at me and the tears in my eyes and says "are you sure?" and I smile and say "no, really, I'm fine".

    I can see you smiling through your teary eyes and saying "things will be fine".

    And they will.

  8. That was beautifully expressed, Sue. Praying for you guys...because it's all I can do from this far away.

  9. *sigh*

    contentment can be found anywhere, but it sure is hard to leave for less green pastures.

    praying you are able to discover many many memories in your 'fresh start'

  10. I feel your sadness. I can't imagine moving to somewhere that I really don't want to go. However, maybe, this new adventure will lead to something more spectacular than you ever imagined. You NEVER know.

    Life is crazy. Try to be positive. You may look back on this move and say "Wow, that was the best thing that ever happened to use." Maybe you will move there, get established, work hard, make new contacts, and be given an opportunity for the dream job in the dream city making more money than you ever dreamed about. Who knows.

    I remember when I "thought" I had a dream job. My boss ended up being the worst. ever. I literally quit one day on the spot. I went home that night and cried so hard and was shaking. I swear I was literally in shock. I couldn't believe I just did that. And I couldn't believe that after being considered such a great, smart employee by so many others, that this one guy could hate me so much.

    But my husband and I (married about a year) decided maybe this was the time to forget about my career and try for a family.

    I was literally pregnant with our first daughter 2 weeks later and never went back to full time work. Now I am a SAHM. That horrible job ended up being the best thing ever to happen to me.

    Take care,

  11. Anonymous5:16 PM

    You might be surprised by this but I live in your ward. Someone passed me the link, top secret, I don't know if you knew it was going around or not. I'm sorry you are going through this and more sorry you have to leave.

    You are right it is a great neighborhood. Sometimes it feels like we stepped back in time with the way people care about each other and all. I wish I'd got to know you better. You seem like a really nice person, and when you talk in Relief Society I always know to get ready to laugh because you are going to say something real or a little shocking or funny. And anyone who runs around the neighborhood in bare feet is alright in my book.

    Ive been enjoying your blogs, I'm glad I found it out. I hope everything works out for you and your family, I can tell it will because you and your husband seem like great friends because you are always together and that's something.

  12. Thanks for reminding me to be thankful for where I live. This is a great sampling of Americana in seasons. I have moved a lot (almost as many times as I am years old). It sucks every time. But there is something (often many things) I learn to love about the new place. Not to get all "look on the bright side-ish" because I am reiterating that it sucks to move, even when you're experienced at it. (We're currently renting in less than favorable circumstances, too.)

  13. Anonymous5:31 PM

    Too bad Norman Rockwell never visited Vegas. He could have painted "Don't Touch the Ground Tag," pomegranate wars, picking tomatoes in December,
    cinnamon rolls in the park on a November morning, sledding parties in Lee Canyon, picnics on a blanket while watching plays at Spring Valley Ranch, library story time, and more. Life isn't WHERE, but HOW we make it. And now your children will have tons of cousins to play with! I loved this post,Sue, by the way. It was so beautifully written.

  14. This post was beautiful! I know you will miss those things, but I loved your last paragraph. So true.
    I'm am sorry to hear about all the things you have and are going through. I know you have good days and bad days. Your strength and positive attitude are amazing to me!

  15. Anonymous5:44 PM

    Beautiful post, Sue. I wish you the best. And if I could hold out one little glimmer of hope--shortly my brother and SIL moved from Vegas it snowed three inches. So I guess hell does freeze over once in awhile. (Just kidding about the hell part--don't hate me Vegas fans, some of the nicest people I know came from Vegas. I just couldn't help myself so I was goin' for a laugh)

  16. oh susie. that was lovely. thinking of you and praying for you all.

  17. HI SUE!!!! It was sooooo good to hear from you!! I LOVED reading your blog!! I feel for you...every time we go to Highland to see the Porters, I just want to pick up and move there. I HATE VEGAS TOO!!! I also feel your pain in the finances department. We thought owning a construction company in Vegas would be a HUGE money maker (it did pretty good for a couple of years) then the economy in VEGAS took a HUGE CRAP!!!!!!! Paying bills each week makes me "poop myself a little bit"!!! HA HA Anyhow, I am glad you found my blog...keep in touch!! Your kids are adorable!

  18. Wow, you are so eloquent! This post is almost how I grew up (minus the snow as I grew up in Louisiana). We loved being outdoors.

    Moving is so stressful - take lots of deep breaths. I've never been to Vegas, but the desert is beautiful even if it is hot. There are good experiences everywhere; the kids (and you) will be fine. Praying for you!

  19. You will miss it - the neighborhood and seasons and memories - but ... you will make so many more in a new place with every possibility!!! Vegas reminds of Texas, in some ways. It took me a while to enjoy this place - to appreciate that our home is where we were and it can be wonderful even though it is not the perfect picture. I wish you all the luck in the world and I wish you years of fabulous new memories and pictures! I do! Loved this post Sue - take care - Kellan

  20. The thing about living in those Rockwell paintings is knowing that it can't last forever. Eventually we all have to move on, for better, or for worse. This time may be worse, but next time, perhaps even better.

    I often think to myself, "these 'salad days' are limited," so I store them up. Hopefully. like you have done in your pictures and blog, I will be able to take them out and relish them in times of real need.

    Sue, you are wonderful! How can you even doubt that you will not have fun and adventure in Las Vegas?!

  21. K ~ Its sooo good to hear from you. I just knew you had a blog. Don't ya love the blogin' thing. I think its a great way to stay in touch w/ friends.

    Love your blog. I LOL at the post about your honeymoon w/ the fire alarm. Totally remember that story:)

    So...your moving back. Thats good news for us. Where? What side of town? We're up here in "Little Utah" is what its called. I'll email you to discuss details.

    Cute Kids! The two little ones look just like you.

  22. I think building makeshift dams in the creek are some of my fondest memories (and now my kids' too)

    What you probably won't miss is a wet basement in the spring.

    Beautifully written!

  23. Oh, honey. This spoke to me, too. I'm thinking of you.

  24. And living in the same state as me, you forgot that part!
    Beautiful post. Makes me remember why I do like living in Utah.

  25. What a beautiful and touching post! The pictures are gorgeous, and I can see where your sadness comes from!

    But bless you for looking for the bright side in a time that it's so tough to find one!! I expect pictures of SandAngels! And eggs frying on tin foil.

    I hope that everything goes smooth for you, as moving is hard enough as it is.

  26. Unfortunately, the rest of us don't appreciate those types of things until they are long gone. I can tell how much you have loved every minute of Highland. There are new great memories ahead, to be sure!

  27. Anonymous2:36 PM

    Beautifully written!

  28. Okay, I need a kleenex. I really wish leaving wasn't a bad thing. It makes it hard to move forward.

  29. Anonymous5:44 PM

    I am so saddened that you and your family have to leave, Sue! Not that I know you personally, just that it seems it would be difficult to leave such a wonderful place; perhaps one day you could return? I especially love this post because I am very hopeful about one day moving to Utah myself so it is always a joy for me to hear what it's like from a personal perspective. Well, I wish you and your family all the best in your move!

  30. This post almost had me crying. Good job, Sue.

    I'm sorry you'll have to miss such a wonderful place, and I hope you'll be happy where you're going.

    Beautiful post.

  31. Moving when you are happy where you're at and don't want to isn't easy- we did it a year ago but in the opposite direction as you. We left our ward in Las Vegas that we LOVED, a neighborhood full of kids that we adored, a house that we'd just built and came to the frozen tundra of the north, Utah.

    But we've been pleasantly surprised. We've enjoyed the move, are once again in love with our ward and neighborhood (the house not so much) and have survived 'the snowiest winter in recent history'.

    One thing I learned living in Vegas for a dozen years- the people who came from Utah and decided to HATE Vegas (because it's an evil place full of sinners) will hate Vegas and never be happy. People who come with an open mind and looking for possibilities learn to love it.

    I'm thinking I've read that you've lived there before? If not then feel free to email me about questions, things to do with kids there, where the good parks are, good neighborhoods etc. I don't know all of Vegas- but a large majority of it as far as kid friendly stuff.

  32. That was beautiful. I miss you already though I met you only once and am comforted that I'll always be able to visit you on your blog. Right?

  33. Oh My! Do you really live in Highland? I do too!!! And yes, it's the best place ever. Too bad I just found out we lived in the same town. I would have loved to get to know you.
    I lived in another country for two summers (and loved the country but hated our circumstances), and this summer my husband is going to the Washington DC area all summer. We're not going with him for all the summer. That's not an area where I wanna live with 4 little ones. I hope things will get better for you guys. Honestly.

  34. Hmmmm. So my assumptions about your location were skewed by time. Well, that stinks.

    In my English classes, which I always hated, teachers used to talk about "a sense of place." As an ex-English teacher myself, I suspect that many such people, not being writers themselves, love definitive phrases—lecture points, test answers—and may not really understand from the inside what they are talking about. Or at least, they were not good at making me understand what the heck they meant.

    Since then, I have discovered the thing they were trying to name for myself. The phrase still turns me off, maybe because I heard it so much and it meant so little, and yet all of my life has been deeply invested in such a sense. Profoundly so. If I am not careful, mature and philosophical I could find myself pretty much defined by where I am, where I choose to be, where I long to be, where I love to have been.

    This is an old post, I know—and I'm not sure how I settled on this particular one, but you did the thing with it—that writer's trick of touching small parts of the brain, coaxing out memories, or where they are absent, tucking new ones into those corners, filling in empty places that need filling.

    When we do our jobs correctly, the words turn into images, smells, textures, sounds in the brain as they eyes scan the graphic interface. We can't connect on this earth, inscape to inscape, but when the writing is good, very, very good - and right (which often means understated, simply the right words in the right order), we come close.

    Yes. I miss all of these things too. I actually sometimes sit outside and watch the neighbors across the street who live in that place now, and as I watch, I remember. I haven't moved to las Vegas; I've moved to old. Or at least, older than all of this. And parts of my heart broke as I pulled away to start this part of the journey.

    I would not want to move to Las Vegas. The desert leaves my heart desolate. I am forests and grass. But even so, like Nephi, whose brothers hated where they were because they didn't have their things, their haunts anymore - you have those things which are closest to your heart: the eyes of your children, their busy minds, their wild combinations of ideas and action, their wonder, their sense of magic, their love. It is a moveable feast. Be there, Sue. Be there as deeply as you can. Because eventually, you will move farther away from that than you could bear to imagine.