While we were on vacation in San Diego, I overheard Dean casually tell our friends who live there, “When I’m down here, I start trying to think of ways I could get a job in the San Diego area.” I spent the rest of our vacation asking Dean when he was going to start sending out resumés.
There are many things I love about Utah. I feel a strong connection to my beloved Rocky Mountains and to the beautiful red rock landscapes to the south. I’m proud of and grateful for Utah’s pioneer heritage. And I have dear friends here who’ve blessed my life profoundly.
But I think the first seven years of my life in sunny Northern California must have imprinted on me in a permanent way, and I’ve never learned to love the four seasons. The longer I live in Utah, instead of getting used to the bleak, dry, dark, bitter weeks of deepest winter (from mid-January through February) the more I dread them, and the more they prove every bit as loathesome as I’d feared. It’s particularly bad for a mom of young kids, because when you get housebound with sick kids (as can happen several times a year, and for weeks at a time) you have to seize every healthy moment to get out of the house and taste freedom. But it’s not much of an escape to leave the house in dreary, slushy, February.
And even if the worst part of winter is only about six weeks long, the impact of those six weeks is much greater for me, since I start dreading them in August when school starts, and it takes me until the following August to recover.
So, even though I grew up here, love being near my family, am happy to see my kids thriving, and am thrilled that Dean enjoys his job at BYU, I couldn’t hear Dean’s casual comment about moving to San Diego without my mind flying off into fantasies of a lighter, brighter life, unpocked by the scars of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and unmired by seven soggy coats and seven pairs of muddy boots on my kitchen floor.
Right before BYU’s Fall Semester started, I was invited to go to a meeting at the Marriot Center where it would be announced (among lots of other awards and university business) that Dean had won a faculty award. (The award was called the “Young Scholar Award.” Another guy won the “BYU Class of 1949 Young Faculty Award.”)
(And here’s a tangent anecdote: While I was arriving alone and parking my minivan at the Marriot Center, talking to myself aloud about finding a parking spot in the shade, I saw a plump middle-aged woman leave a van and make her way toward the building. I heard myself say, “There’s one just like me. That makes me happy.”)
After the meeting, I told Dean that I had enjoyed listening to BYU President Samuelson’s candid remarks about management decisions for the university, including the challenges of keeping things going in a tight economy, and of LDS Church leaders’ caring involvement in decisions. This session at the Marriot Center was part of a week-long annual conference held the week before school starts, which I think of as a week-long pep talk, with speakers that include education experts and General Authorities of the Church.
Later in the week, Dean told me, “I wish you could have attended some of the other meetings.”
“So, they’ve been really inspiring, huh?”
“Yes. I start to feel like, ‘I would work here for free!'”
“Yeah. Not that I would let you. So . . . no more plans to move to San Diego?”
“No. Not right now.”
“So I should ask you again in February?”
Dean laughed. “Yeah, ask me again in February.”
So for now, at least, my family is safe from the ruined economy, traffic, overcrowding, and crazy real estate prices of Southern California.