Our visits to the US are always carefully planned. There are places we always go and things we always do and it takes quite a bit of preparation and coordination to make sure we fit everything in.
But there are also things we don’t plan on doing that end up happening and they are perfect. This summer there were two such serendipitious occasions.
The Party Most Idaho. In Idaho Falls we were trying to strike a delicate balance between hanging out with the Palmers and also catching some time with my sister Teresa. One night, we were just heading to my sister’s house after a day with the Palmers. We had taken so long to make it out to her place that, in the meantime, she and her husband and kids had accepted an invitation to go over to a friend’s house, and they said we could stop by there to hang out, too.
Initially I thought we’d just go straight to Teresa’s house because how weird would it be to just show up at a stranger’s get-together at nine-thirty at night? But the friend’s house turned out to be right on the way and in the moment it felt equally weird to just drive on by. So we got out of the car and I kid you not, I had time to say hello to my sister’s friends and then I turned around and Magdalena was riding a horse. Riding a horse! IDAHO.
It only got more magical from there. The other kids rode the horse, and there was a trampoline, and chickens running around, and small children chasing them, and a baby foal recently born, and a…dirtbike? mini motorcycle thing - that Sterling rode on with an ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD, and then an EVEN SMALLER dirtbike with an EVEN SMALLER child driving it. In the distance, someone was setting off big fireworks so that the sky glowed and rumbled as the sun set. It was the most Idaho, most magical thing, and it was completely unplanned and unforeseen. When someone asks me what America is like, I will think of that night and smile and try to explain it and fail.
The Froyo Surprise. On our last night in Oregon my parents and brother and family were playing mölkky at a park and my SIL said, “we should all go get froyo at Menchie’s” and we all just looked at each other like, “Yes, we should!” So we did! And while we were there, what song should come on over the speakers but “You Always Make Me Smile” by Kyle Andrews, which was the song of the summer for us in 2012 or so since Grandpa put it as the soundtrack to that year’s slideshow DVD. It was like we were creating the 2019 slideshow in that very moment…which of course, we were!