And then the week before we moved arrived, and things got crazy. Between packing, a baby with HFM virus, and a mini family reunion, our Goodbye Provo Date never happened. The closest thing we got to it was on our last night there. Sam and I were driving to spend the night in Alpine with a sleeping baby in the backseat. We took the long way so we could reminisce about everything we love in this city. And, even better, the people we love in this city, and the people we became while living there.
What makes a place special to me is the experiences I have there, and these past seven years in Provo have been very eventful.
I first moved to Provo seven years ago as a bright-eyed, bushy tailed freshmhan. I moved into an old dorm with cinder block walls and five strangers. We spent the next few years pulling ridiculous pranks on cute boys, staying up late, borrowing each other's wardrobes, and generally becoming best friends.
Provo is where I got my degree. I sat in class in the McKay building for months, learning about best teaching practices, guided reading, and which professors I wanted to be like when I was a teacher myself. It's where I began my teaching career.
Provo is where I worked through my grief when my mom died. It's where I spent lots and lots of time crying in the frozen cemetery grounds, and scrubbing the headstone free of weeds and bugs in the spring. It's where I slowly healed and realized how many people loved me, and that it's okay to still wear bright colors and be loud and happy.
Provo is where I fell in love with a tall, dark, handsome man. I told him in no uncertain terms that I wanted to date for at least a year before I even thought about getting engaged or married. He nodded very seriously. Four months later, I had a ring on my finger.
Provo is where we became legal guardians to Jason. It's where we realized parenting a teenager isn't nearly so hard as you'd think, and also fifty times harder than anything we'd ever done. Its where we did parent teacher conferences and middle school band concerts and lots of ferrying his friends to the rec center in the summer.
Provo is where we became parents. We would lay on the bed when I was pregnant, watching our baby kick, not believing that this miracle was really ours. It's where we first carried Claire home from the hospital and up the two flights of stairs to our apartment. It's where she laughed her first belly laugh, took her first bite of real food, and toddled her first steps.
And now - we're moving on to our next great adventure. I guess this post is a love letter to Provo. Sometimes Provo gets a bad rap that I don't think it deserves. People think Provo is full of shade shirts and jello and narrow-mindedness. Maybe part of that is true. I have a few shade shirts myself, and if I ever remembered to pick up jello at the store Jason would make it right away and then check it every 20 minutes before slurping up the entire thing.
But honestly, what I remember most is a lot of people with open hearts and open minds and vastly different belief systems. It has much more diversity than it gets credit for. I honestly believe Utah Valley is the world's best-kept secret. The mountains are absolutely gorgeous, the cost of living is comparatively cheap, the outdoor entertainment is endless, the job market is great, and the people are so giving and open and accepting.
^^We really miss our family already!
I was halfway through typing out a huge list of the names of people who have influenced me here, but it was getting to be a ridiculously long list. Roommates, extended family, college friends, teacher friends, ward friends, neighborhood friends, blogging friends. After about 50 names I decided to give up the whole thing. I know I'd inadvertently leave someone out anyway. But, if you influenced my life in Provo, know that you were on the list. Even if you think you probably weren't on the list, you were. It's such a long list full of people trying their best. And you were what made it so awesome to live here.
All I can say is Provo, you're doing all right. All the heart emojis. The end.