June 25, 2016
We woke up this morning in Brian’s beautiful house in Draper, Utah and got ready for the day. Skye found an “Egg and I” restaurant nearby, and navigated us to it. The hostess informed us that our server was Moroni, which I thought was pretty funny. The girls didn’t understand why I had any reaction, so I gave them a quick first discussion and told them the story of the Book of Mormon, and that it was the prophet Moroni who buried the Gold Plates in upstate New York for Joseph Smith to later find. It’s the same Moroni who’s perched atop Mormon temples the world over, several of which we saw on our drive through Utah and Idaho. It’s a name you’d never hear outside of Mormondom.
After breakfast we got on I-15 North, headed for Idaho. The girls got good at pointing out all the Mormon church buildings in every town and neighborhood. The weather was gorgeous, and it was nice to have those tall mountains to our east for the duration of the drive. At one point the speed limit dropped to 55 miles per hour and Skye, who was in the front passenger seat navigating, instinctively played Sammy Hagar’s “I can’t drive 55!” She’s good.
The primary objective of the day was to visit Rexburg, Idaho, so I could see and show the girls where Kirsten and I met and fell in love. Instead of going directly there, we went to the sand dunes in St. Anthony’s. When Kirsten and I were students at Ricks College, we would occasionally go out to the dunes, build a fire, gaze at the stars, and cuddle and make out under a blanket. I have very happy memories of that place, and knew the girls would enjoy playing on them. When we got there they ran right to the top, sat on the precipice, then began to slide and roll down them, filling every on of their orifices with fine sand. They laughed as they played together, which was nice to see.
As we drove south from the dunes to Rexburg, the Grand Tetons stood majestically on the east horizon to our left. If The West is anything, it’s grand, for sure. I recalled treks to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park when I lived there. It was a great place to go to school, but the best part was the cute girl I met in the autumn of 1991.
Ricks College no longer exists. It’s now Brigham Young University – Idaho. The apartments where Kirsten and I lived way back in 1991-1992 are still there, however, and mostly unchanged. It was fun to see my old place, and have the girls see it, too. It is where Kirsten’s roommate, Sandy, who was dating my neighbor, first saw me sitting on my deck, peeling apples for a fresh apple pie. She was impressed, and went home and told Kirsten about me. We were introduced shortly afterwards, and the rest is history.
Then we went next door to Hillcrest Townhouse Apartments, where Kirsten lived. I told the girls the story of when I visited her one morning and found her outside the apartment door in only a bathrobe. She had stepped out to get something and her roommates locked her out. She was so cute standing out there, vulnerable, begging to be let back in, embarrassed that I had discovered her. Kirsten was always having jokes and pranks played on her, because she did it to others, but also because she was such a good sport and always enjoyed the lighter side of life.
As we drove away, I thanked the girls for indulging my need to walk down memory lane, and told them how much it meant to me to be there. Then I broke down crying and had to pull the truck over to the side of the road. I hadn’t done that for a few days and thought maybe I was getting over that phase of grief, but then it’s not every day that I’m in a place that so powerfully floods back the happy memories I have of Kirsten. We were just kids then, and so much in love.
As we departed Rexburg, the sun was getting low in the sky. Our destination for the night was my friend Christina’s house in Boise, on the west side of Idaho. It was so good to see Christina, whom I hadn’t seen in twenty-three years when I was a Mormon missionary serving on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I was completely spent, and it was after midnight when we arrived, so after a brief visit I climbed into bed and fell fast asleep.