These parents of mine

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from Pinterest, naturally

Today I sat in my dad’s office and watched my parents exchange business cards.  One of them had just gotten a new one or something, so they swapped and it was really funny but I didn’t have time to Snapchat it.

I tease my parents a lot: “Remember that time I broke my arm and no one believed me?”

Dad: “Yeah, I think we made you go to your siblings’ soccer game.”

Mom: “I know, I know, we’ve scarred you all…”

All joking aside, they’re great parents, and here’s one thing they did really, really well—they encouraged us all to read.

When I was younger we’d go to the local library all the time. I’d write book reports, sometimes for school, sometimes for fun, about stories I read.  In the summers we’d do the reading programs.  For fun, we went to the movies and dinner and the beach, but more than anything we went to Borders.  Night out to dinner? Definitely going to be a Borders trip afterward.

And this is what they did really, really well with encouraging us to read: whenever anyone was in trouble (e.g. sent to their room, grounded) nothing was allowed except reading.  There was no TV, no music, no phone, no hanging out with friends…but reading was totally kosher.  And that, my dear friends, is how one of my brothers ended up reading this random novel my mom had picked up the previous year but no one had touched yet…which is how we all discovered HARRY POTTER and our lives were forever changed for the better.

So last week I took three finals on Monday and first thing Tuesday morning I went to the library to treat myself.  Picked up a foreign film, two classics, and a book. Because that’s fun to me.  And amidst studying for finals, packing to come home, and now being at home, I’ve been switching between Jon Meacham’s book about the friendship between FDR and Churchill, and a biography about Sandra Day O’Connor, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Now, back in my house, I’m reminded of all of the books I’ve yet to read, just within my own house. I never did finish The American Political Tradition back when I started it as a sixth-grader and learned what “hindsight” meant.  Or Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth.  There are dozens of religious books written by professors I can take classes from at BYU (how cool is that. Three weeks ago I went to a lecture with 300 other people to hear a world-renowned scholar expound on the relationship between understanding the nature of God and understanding the nature of man, and all I could think was, “My mom has books by this guy.”).  And of course, my mother’s nightstand is layered with novels and self-help books and fitness books and all sorts of knowledge.

It took me a long time to realize how good my parents are at fostering a love of learning, but I’m so grateful that they are.

To say that Sun Valley is my respite

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does not entirely capture the love I have for this tiny little valley where I get no cell service except at Shorty’s, the cafe on Main Street (“–not to be confused with…oh wait. There’s nothing else to confuse it with” -Ceisha).

I first came here in 2012, the Thanksgiving of my freshman year.  I was ten pounds heavier than I normally am and acne prone.  I had just finished a massive paper that, to this day, remains one of the works I’m most proud of.  I got in the car with Ceisha (my auntie) in Twin Falls and when she asked me how I was I had to turn away so I didn’t cry in front of my cousin.  I had friends in Provo, yes.  I had great professors in Provo, yes.  I was fine, yes.  But it had been so long since someone had asked me that and looked like they meant it, and it had been even longer since the person asking had been someone who really knew me and would be able to understand.

The first night at their house in the canyon, though, I can’t handle (level of 1 to even: I can’t). I sit at the kitchen table and my uncle asks me about school.

What classes am I taking, he wants to know. Are they all for my Political Science major? (Ugh. I’ve forgotten that I once wanted to do that.)

What’s the plan now? Am I thinking law school? His sister and her husband went to Columbia. I could talk to them if I want to.

Again I have to briefly look away. I’ve forgotten how to handle this type of love.

Those four days or so in Sun Valley became a memory of rest for me.  They became memories of times when no one cared if I wore make up or if I took too long to get ready or if I slept a little more than I should.  I watched “Cupcake Wars” with my cousin and stayed away from the taegu another cousin had just purchased, and I returned to Provo four days later–still acne prone, still overweight–but lighter and more myself.

II.

The next visit was in 2013.  It was less than a year later.  Within that year, I had decided to go on a mission, had received my call, and Ceisha had taken me through the temple in Laie.  I went to Sun Valley with just about three weeks before reporting to the Missionary Training Center in Provo.

Again, it was relaxed.  We ate the diner, we went to a movie, we toured Ketchum.  I wore my hair in buns and sometimes wore makeup and sometimes didn’t, and I relaxed.

We carved pumpkins on my last day.

III.

This visit is now.  It’s 2015.  In the two years since I’ve been to Sun Valley, I’ve served a mission, and come back.  I’ve completed (almost) another semester of college. I’ve switched my major again.  I’ve dated more boys and broken up with more boys and am confused about yet more boys.

My phone doesn’t work here (only the fact that my mom has an iPhone allows our texts to go through), and I love it. I don’t get e-mails. I don’t get calls.  The one text I do receive from a non-iPhone-user is the sweetest, so I’ll keep it.  Mostly I read my biography about Sandra Day O’Connor, play Heads Up with my cousin, and eat good food.

This visit is different, though, because it will be the last.  My cousins are moving back to where we’re all truly from, and my mom is happy but I will miss them.  So I take lots of pictures and try to capture everything I love about this place which really, could be summed up in just a few words: Books.  Space.  Love.

There’s a good feeling in my cousins’ house.  Whoever you are is great.  However you are is great.  We love you, you’re funny, we’re so glad you’re here.

If I could bottle Sun Valley, I’d bottle that feeling.  And I’d drink it in Provo when I get the deadlines on my Arabic homework wrong, or when I like that boy in my ward and I just really wish I wouldn’t, or when I change my major and wonder again, who am I, anyway?

I’d drink that Sun Valley kool-aid (which is wassel, in case you’re curious) and I’d be in a canyon, nestled between snowcapped hills, and I’d be just right at home.

Lately

if you ask me the last time I washed my hair, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

Because really, I can’t remember.

[me at the salon

stylist: do you wash your hair every other day?

me: um, more like every third…or fifth…]