Monday, January 11, 2016

Trip to Rexburg + I won a thing!!! + Aging. (It happens.)

In September or October or some month in the past I spontaneously took a trip down to Idaho with a former early-morning seminary student of mine (shout out, Spencer Transier) who was going there to forge his destiny and stuff.

I was going there because my parents had just moved into an assisted living facility. Which, in case you were wondering, really sucks.

The drive down was great--uneventful and nice and picturesque, like any good road trip should be. Here's a poor picture from the drive:

I'm always amazed I haven't been tapped to work for a magazine with photos like this.
Oh, side story: at one point I was introducing Spencer to Radiohead (which I viewed as part of my responsibility as his former seminary teacher, obviously) and in order to give context to the brilliant progression of their musical output over time I was like "well, you know "Creep" right?" expecting him to know exactly what I was talking about. And he didn't. So I sang the chorus. "Cuz I'm a creeeeep, I'm a weeeeeeirdoooooo . . ." Still nothing. Then I was like "Really Spencer? It was one of the most popular songs of 1995. How have you never heard this?" And he was like "Josh, I was born in 1995."

And that's when my soul died.

Guys, Spencer isn't some junior high student. He is a returned missionary. He drives. He's done years of college. He is old enough to drink. Maybe. I can't remember. The new mission age thing throws me off. But the point here is that I might have never felt so old as I did in that moment. And for a man three gray hairs shy of officially being salt and pepper and three years shy of his 20 year high school reunion, that's really saying something.

Anyway, we got there, and a bunch of stuff happened that I have trouble remembering because it all happened months ago, but I'll try.


I walked around campus and visited the old haunts from when Lolly and I were there together. You know, last century. Literally.

Lolly lived in this apartment. I ate dinner with her and her roommates almost every day my Freshman year.

Here is the Snow Building (music), where I spent a lot of time my Freshman year. It looks the same as it did in 1999.

I spent a lot of time wandering the campus after a long run at the track. It felt so familiar and peaceful, and was really wonderful. Lots of good memories.

Later that day, we went to visit the assisted living facility where my parents are living. It was hard. The facility was nice though.

 My sister Jenni and I during the dinner they served us at the assisted living facility. We are Klassy.

 This picture of my dad feeding my mom breaks my heart and fills me with joy all at once.

After that we went to a park nearby to hang out with my dear friend Sarah Dunster. She and I have been writing friends for years, Skyping to workshop poetry and beta reading one another's stuff, and when I told her I was visiting my parents in Rexburg at the assisted living facility she was like "Josh, that is next door to my house. I am looking at that assisted living center from my window." I couldn't believe it. It felt moving to me, and very synchronistic. I feel a lot of comfort knowing that she lives near them while I can't. Anyway, she could only come to the park for a few minutes so I didn't get a picture of her, but I did get some of the rest of us.

 Mom and Dad on a bench.

It was such a beautiful day that Jenni and I decided to go walking through the park with the kids. The air was autumn-crisp. Her kids were chasing, playing tag. Jenni and I talked about life and about what was happening to our family. As we walked I saw some swings, and couldn't help myself. I hopped on, and it felt so refreshing to fly through the air like a kid again. I couldn't contain my childlike laughter as I soared higher and higher--it felt so freeing and wonderful, like I had accessed a part of me long forgotten. Jenni pulled out her camera and snapped some photos. "You're gonna love these," she said, and I was glad she thought of it. She sent them over to my phone and when I looked at them, I couldn't stop laughing. I don't know what I expected to see (something youthful? something carefree?) but it definitely wasn't this:

 What whimsy!

Such childlike wonder....

And/or I look like a disabled koala bear that's about to sneeze.

One of those two things.

The rest of the shots were also hilariously awful:

 That swingset's about snap old man. Go home.

 It's tragic that such genuine, childlike laughter could look so awkward. 

 My favorite part of this one is the shadow--somehow that shadow so perfectly captures the ridiculousness of the giant man-child soaring through the air above it.

I don't know why, but that moment of freedom and childlike wonder which I thought would be so beautifully captured on Jenni's phone and then the way the actual pictures bitch-slapped back to reality was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Absurdity is fun, I guess. And humor helps to process pain.

Here's a picture of me looking relatively normal. To restore balance to the universe.

After this, we had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant. It was really difficult. My mom struggled the whole time. But it was very nice to be together.
I had some really healing, beautiful things happen this trip. It was wonderful to be with my parents. Going to church with my dad was soothing--the way his ward was already reaching out to him (in part because of Sarah's advocacy in ward counsel before we got there) felt comforting. And then the last night I was there, my dad,  my brother Chris and I all had dinner together. We talked and laughed and ate really good food. It was cathartic. 

The next morning Spencer came and picked me up, but before he did I was able to spend time with Chris. I talked to him and gave him a blessing, and it was really really clear to us both that he and my parents were supposed to be there (he lives in apartment close to them), and that even though it was hard, God had some important things planned for all of them.  

I'm very glad I was able to make the trip.

I'm also really, really, really glad that I'm on Friday #2 of 2016 and I am on track of keeping my goal of writing a post every Friday.

Go me!!!! 

2016--I will OWN YOU.

Oh, PS, an awesome Weeder named Wendy Simmerman posted this link on my Facebook page yesterday, and I realized I forgot to tell you all about something important. I won a thing!!!! A year ago!!! And now I waited so long to tell you that the contest is open again!!!! Because that's how I roll!!! (If you click on the title it will take you to a PDF that I think is free, so you can read the actual piece. It was based on a blog post I wrote years ago, so it might sound a little familiar to some of you.)

(For the record, the plan is to write these things on Friday and post them on Monday--you know, when people are avoiding their horrible jobs all day more apt to have an online presence.)

All right. Finis.


  1. I loved this post - two of my daughters went to Ricks (what it was called back in the day) and I visited them several times - one of them stayed at Snow View. I really thought I had gone back in time when I visited the actual town - it reminded me of a town from the 1950's. I'm sure it's changed since my girls were there in the early 90s. Sad to read about your mom - she looks so young. What a horrible disease.

  2. I was scared and glad to read this. I've been wondering about how y'all are doing with this.

    Your parents are pretty awesome. Kind of a blessing to have around. But you knew that :) Your dad kinda made Mr cry yesterday. He's reading a book of mine, & told me something he appreciated about it....I needed the lift. in other words, the Weeds are blessing St. Anthony :) & you are a favorite friend of mine, Josh. Life is hard & sad but things will be ok.

  3. I laughed so hard that I cried at the swing pictures. I'm sure I look this way when I try to be "fun mom" and ride my boys' bikes or scooters around with them. And I feel the same way in my calling in YW when I'm referencing something and not just the girls, but MY FELLOW LEADERS have no idea what I'm talking about! Then they say what year they were born in. I feel so old in my late 30's and they 25-ish. haha

  4. FYI, I just submitted an application, on your behalf, to Time, Inc. for the position of Senior Associate Photo Editor.

    You're a natural, kid, and you're going places.

    No, there was no age limit posted for the position so you should be good to go and yes, they were interested in a photography-centric piece around your pictures in the swing. They were existential, yet so very accessible.

    You're welcome.

  5. Wow, this really took me back! I lived in Snowview as well, was a music major and lived in the Snow building. It's nice to see the lobby (or Fish Bowl, as we knew it) hasn't changed. What a nice trip you had!

  6. I love that your dad moved in with your mom so they don't have to be without each other. I love you on the swing. I'm glad you're going to post regularly this year.

  7. This post brings me joy. Especially your awesome swinging pictures that helped you to process such a difficult visit.

  8. Hey, I've been a sporadic reader of your blog for a while, and I cannot believe that you have a sister named Jenni, because I had a friend at BYU I whose name was Jenni Weed, and she was awesome! I realize Jenni is a common name, so I should probably just write it off as a mere coincidence, but did she ever live in Lubbock TX after she got married?

    1. That would be her I'm guessing--she did live in Lubbock for a while while her husband Justin finished law school. And I agree, she is awesome! Fun to make that connection. Thanks for stopping by :-)

  9. Wow! That is sooo cool. What an awesome family!

  10. Josh. I just laughed SO HARD that it prompted a coughing fit SO DISTURBING as to make my husband worry that I smoked one too many clove cigarettes as a teen. I love you for that, and for so many other reasons, but especially for that :-).

  11. I love everything about this post. Thank you for the tears and laughter and laughtears.