Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Top of Utah, or Yes, Indeed, I Ran a Marathon

Who would have believed it? Certainly not me. I remember some very specific discussions about how running a marathon was NOT on my to-do list. Lots of half marathons? Sure. But a full marathon? 26.2 miles? Come on. Why would I ever want to do something so physically exhausting? And isn't it bad for your body? And surely it would never be right to take so much time away from my family to train.

So how did I find myself on a school bus leaving Logan at 5:20 on Saturday morning with four friends to meet our marathoning destinies?

Well, it just so happens that I made this little goal at the beginning of the year to run 1000 miles in 2009. This is not really that many miles. It's only 20 miles a week, which is 20 miles a week more than I ran 4 years ago, but still. I've been staying pretty close to my weekly mileage goal, especially with training for the Salt Lake Half and then the Wasatch Back. But what next? Liz decided it was Top of Utah. She tried to talk me into it. I thought about it. I kicked it around. I decided against it. And once I decided against it, I changed my mind.


1. I was already high in my mileage for long runs to train for Ragnar.
2. Training for a marathon would assure that I met my 1000 mile goal.
3. I would have been jealous of Liz and Bliss training together while I did measly 6 mile Saturday runs.
4. I needed something to get my mind off of the moving thing.
3. God told me to.

Yeah, He really did, but that's a post for another time.

Here are things I learned while training:

1. I'm slower than Liz and Bliss.
2. I really like meeting new people while running with them. They become close friends in the space of one 16 miler.
3. No subject is off-limits as running talk. And running talk turns way too often to poop. (That's for you, L.)
4. You can get used to getting up at 6 to run, even on weekdays.
5. I am more capable of doing hard things than I ever thought I was.
6. Immodium is my best non-human running friend. 2 chewable tablets (yuck) 2 hours before each long run with 1/2 a banana, 1/4 of a bagel, and a big glass of water: totally works. I just put it all on my nightstand, set my alarm for 4:00, woke up and ate while David groaned "What are you DOING?" and cheered for victory at the end of all my long runs. I know. Way more than you wanted to know. But it's a public service announcement for all of you aspiring marathoners. You'll thank me.
7. Yes on Bodyglide. Yes on sunscreen. Yes on Sports Beans. And by the end, even yes on Gus (plural of Gu, not Gus the mule.)
8. You know how you would think you'd lose weight when you're running almost 40 miles a week? Yeah. You'd be wrong. Liz lost weight. I gained what she lost. It's very sick and wrong. It's a cosmic joke. And yet there it is. I'm warning you. (Interestingly, although it bothered me that I gained weight, I was so proud of what my body was accomplishing every week that I cared less than I would have expected.)
9. You will be struck with some non-imaginary ailment in the week or two before the race. Liz warned us. We did not believe her. But every one of us had some terrible, tragic pain to deal with that looked like it might end our race dreams. I had the WORST BACK PAIN of my life in the week before the race. I was referred to a physical therapist by an ultra-runner friend and he worked a miracle. On Tuesday, I really thought I wouldn't be able to run, and by Saturday morning (after doing the stretches he recommended) I had NO back pain. None. Hooray for Troy Marsh.

So a few short months after deciding that yes, indeed, I'd run that crazy race, Bliss, Liz & I drove up to Logan with Bliss' family. We stayed overnight with Bliss' mom and dad. Our friend Jenn joined us at the house for a big fat slumber party, and we picked up our friend Jena at her hotel dark and early the next morning.

And here's how it went:

The race started at Hardware Ranch, up Blacksmith Fork Canyon. The first 14 miles or so were downhill, but not terribly steep. The canyon was gorgeous. The leaves were just starting to turn, the weather was perfect, the river was lovely. It was a fantastic beginning. I had planned to really pace myself. I knew I'd be tempted to push the pace since it was downhill (and I love downhill), but I also knew I'd have 12 more miles to go once the downhill ended. So within the first half mile, I waved goodbye to the rest of the girls and settled in with Mr. iPod to run the duration of the race.

The first 18 miles were actually really great. My halfway mark was a minute faster than my half marathon PR. I loved seeing Liz's husband Jeff and her boys at mile 14. They gave me an emotional boost and I felt great. I stayed mostly under 9:30 for each mile, with a couple in the 9:40 range. and a few in the 9:10-15 range. Mile 18-21 were harder. I ended up passing Jena, whose knee was starting to really give out. I ran with her for a little while, but ended up pushing ahead.

I drank water at every stop, so I felt hydrated throughout. I ate a sports bean at every mile that wasn't a water stop and ended up having 3 gus (at miles 9, 19, and 22) and a few chunks of banana. (I know. You totally don't care about what I ate. Unless you're about to run your first marathon, in which case this information is ridiculously fascinating.) All was going as planned.

And then came the wall. I mean, you hear about The Wall. And then you Experience The Wall. I think it was when I got to 21 and I realized that I still had more than 5 miles to go, and that would likely be close to an hour more running based on how I was feeling. That just sounded awful. Terrible. So hard. And so it was. 22 and 23 were dreadfully hard. I just felt so so drained. I ended up walking two or three times per mile, but by 24, I realized that starting to run again after walking was harder than just continuing to run. I dropped my pace significantly, still walked through the water stops, but tried to just put one foot in front of the other.

The world shrinks at this point. The world becomes you, your pain, and your desire to end the pain. I just focused on wanting to see David, to see my kids, to see the finish line.

I know! Doesn't it sound fun?!?! It really was!!! (OK, it wasn't fun. But it was remarkable.)

And then, after thinking it would never come, there was the finish line. It was there. In front of me. Way too far away, but it was there. And I made it. I powered through and burst into tears at the end. My music was blaring so I didn't even hear my family and Liz and Jeff screaming for me. David says I just looked mad. I wasn't mad. I was just miserable.

I had really only had one main goal. I had really wanted to stay under 10 minute miles throughout. That's not impressive when you're Liz (4 hours and 6 seconds!) or Bliss (4 hours and 21 seconds!), but it felt like it would push me but be barely do-able. And when I looked at my watch when it was all over (26.44 miles, according to Mr. Garmin. Darned tangents.), it said that my overall pace was 9:59. I felt like I was handed a gift from Heavenly Father. (Again, a post for another time.)

I cried when I saw David. I cried when I realized I was moving this week and wouldn't live across the street from my Liz. And I smiled a lot. A lot.

Because you know what? I just ran a marathon.

Yup. Me. I did that.

Well, me and Liz and Bliss and Jenn and Jenna. And you know what?

It was awesome.

Final Stats: Time: 4:23:37. Place: 1010/2027 overall, 393/1009 women. Satisfied? Yes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Decade of Drama

Sophie made her entrance into the world at 9:17 pm on 9-17-99. She arrived 45 minutes after our arrival at the hospital. No time for drugs. No time for preparation. Just time to put on the Mozart CD, for David to grab the camera from the car, and for me to scream a bunch.

I don't know how the world turned so long without her in it.

Sophie has been begging (without cessation) for months (for years) to get her ears pierced. I've been planning to let her get her ears pierced on her tenth birthday. I wanted to surprise her by taking her out of school for lunch and a kid date and then the ear-piercing-extravaganza. Unfortunately, she pushed my buttons so badly one day ("WHY can't I have my ears pierced? WHY? Just give me three reasons!!! OK, give me three more! Those aren't good enough! Why don't you trust me?") that I spilled the beans just so she would let it rest. She was very excited. She let it rest. I wish I had told her months ago.

I stole her away from school and she chose Subway for lunch.

(I love these kids. How cute are they?)

Then it was off to Claire's. (Does anyone else think it's strange that most of us get our ears pierced at a tacky accessory store?)

She chose earrings with her birthstone (sapphire) and was very brave.

We brought brownies back to school. She chose pulled pork sandwiches for dinner and her traditional choice of cake (poppy seed bundt cake) for the cake and ice cream festivities that night.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Life would be deadly boring without my Sophie. I love her intensity, her bright mind, her lovely voice, her sweetness with Ben, her questions about life. She brightens the space she occupies. The world changed for the better a decade ago, and I've been blessed to witness it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

V for Victory

I did it.

We did it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Mike, Bri and Celia came out for a short visit this weekend. We had Sunday dinner together (last family dinner in our house. Sigh.) and realized that we had all ten Youngberg cousins together, so of course we had to try to take a picture for mom and dad.

Yeah. Better luck next time.

Other (slightly better) pictures of the family extravaganza:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ensign Peak

In all my years in Salt Lake City, I've never hiked to Ensign Peak. It's a perfect kid hike: not too long, but with a payoff at the end. I can't believe we've never hiked it! Our primary presidency set up a family hike for last Saturday morning. It was a perfect day, the kids were happy, and Ben hiked the entire thing, which meant that we were far far behind the rest of the group.

It was a bittersweet morning. Friday night we found out that the sale of the house will likely go through. I was still in denial all morning, but the word was out and it was sad sad sad.

But the hike was lovely, I got to be with people I love, and Ben was so so fun, so that was all good.

The girls waving at us. Yes. We were that far behind.

My trio. Josh was sick.

I love my valley. Sigh. How can I leave it?

Grandview 2nd Ward

The Hughes

Marianne and Ava Teerlink

Sophie, Jasmine, Isabelle

Friday, September 11, 2009


On September 11, 2001, the world stopped. It stopped for a long time, and when it started its rotation again, haltingly, bit by bit, we were all different.

I was different.

I loved my country more.

I loved my countrymen more.

I shed more tears more easily.

I recognized the fragility of each day.

I loved more deeply.

After spending that morning watching the horrific images again and again and again, I left my sweet and safe and protected little home to pick up Josh from kindergarten. My neighbor Sarka came out at the same time and we hugged each other tightly and wept together.

Sarka and her lovely family had moved in across the street earlier that year. We had greeted them with Otter Pops and excitement to welcome more children onto the street. We became fast friends, and I was fascinated by the stories she told. She and her husband were both born and raised in Afghanistan, both forced out of Afghanistan for political reasons. Sarka's story is like an Afghan Sound of Music. She and her family, both immediate and extended, left their home with dishes on the table and walked to Pakistan to escape. They were in danger because of her father's role in government. Her husband left because as a young man, he worked on an underground radio station and held "radical" views, views that were "dangerous".

My oldest and her youngest would begin kindergarten together in the fall. Our children loved to play together. Josh adored Sarka's wonderful cooking. Sarka helped watch the kids on some of my teaching days. We attended Ramadan celebrations. They gave us Christmas cards. Sarka spread love. And flatbread. Oh, Sarka's flatbread. Once she realized how much I adored it, there were never many days between gifts of that manna.

On that terrible morning, neither of us realized that Afghanistan would become the focus of the nation's rage, that troops would invade so quickly, that their relatives would once again be living in a war zone. All we knew was that evil had been done, and we mourned together.

Loving Sarka made it so easy to let go of any prejudice I might have had in those days after 9-11. When I would read stories of Muslim men being detained at airports, or being ripped from their families and taken to prison for questioning, I would think of Sarka, her husband and son. Our views on life, our love of God, our desire to raise good and kind families in a holy way...all the same. There was no hatred in that home. There was no evil in that home. When I would overhear negative conversations about the "dangerous religion" of Islam, I had plenty to say. I still have plenty to say.

When I remember that tragic day, I remember it with so much sadness, but the sadness is tempered with gratitude. I am grateful for the lessons I learned from my dear neighbor and friend. I believe that love builds bridges over deep chasms, that loving those around us in the small daily ways of bread and Otter Pops teaches us tolerance and respect and understanding. I hope it's a lesson that I never forget and that my children will always have wrapped around them like Sarka's embrace.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's All Stupid. Except Glee. And David

So I have this post idea about the whole Obama/Hitler thing. It keeps rearing its ugly head in my brain. I still have much to say about this, but I'm not sure I want to spew more political stuff into the blogosphere, especially after the last comment I got that suggests that we have a bunch of modern Gadianton robbers planning the overthrow of all that is holy and that maybe I should decide to stand up for what is right and good. So there's a chance I'll just bore my friends and David talking about the stupid Hitler comparison until I work it out of my system, but there's also a chance I'll write something about it. I can't make any promises. But Obama = Hitler? Beyond stupid.

I also can't figure out why I'm gaining so darned much weight while training for this darned marathon. Stupid stupid stupid. Yes, it could have something to do with cookies, but for heaven's sake, I gained a pound the week I ran 38 miles. Stupid stupid stupid. Did I already say that? This post should make it clear that everything feels stupid right now.

Josh is sick now (joining Kate and Ben. Also, Sophie tried to convince me that she was sick yesterday). The one good thing about that is that I don't have to drive him to Bountiful tonight for soccer practice. One of the stupid things about this is that I'm supposed to go to the symphony gala tomorrow night. Guess I may not be going to the symphony gala tomorrow night.

And stupid house-selling stuff...no more to say on that, but WAY stupid stupid stupid.

On the other hand, Glee was hysterical last night. And David manages to still like me, even when I'm ranting about stupid things or leaving paper piles in my used-to-be clean office. Thank goodness for my David. He is one bright spot in an otherwise stupid universe.

I wish I could talk about the phenomenal poetry I've been reading, or art I've been creating, or people I've been helping or something inspiring, but I just am not feeling like doing much. Especially figuring out what to make for dinner, which I really should be getting on the table right this minute.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It Serves Me Right

I was a little too excited about Kate being sick.

Ben is crankier than he's been in ages. He's like a big whiny tumor on my leg when he's not pinching Kate.

And Sophie just came home from school sick.

And I'm spending my whole day working on house loan stuff.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm a Little Warped

Isn't it so wrong that I'm so excited Kate has a fever and gets to (I mean has to) stay home with me tomorrow?

So wrong!

And yet, so right.

We're going to read and play piano and watch TV and eat cookies and snuggle. Too bad she has to be too sick to enjoy it as much as I will!

I've never been so excited to have a sick kid before.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Patience is a Virtue

People make jokes about redheads and their fiery tempers.

I object!

Actually, I don't object. I'm a redhead with a fiery temper.

I've spent years trying to pretend that I'm a calm and rational individual. I can pull off the impersonation much of the time. And then every once in a while I just can't take it anymore. And I blow.

Like I said, it doesn't happen very often. But when it does, it's something to see.

David's family's favorite story happened a couple of years ago at Christmas time. We were having cousins pictures taken the day before my family left to celebrate in CA. We were all very stressed, the cousins did NOT cooperate, and my two year old niece was refusing to put her shoes on to walk to the car which was far across the parking lot.

Along came a well-dressed, possibly well-meaning woman. We thought she'd smile at us and tell us how cute all of our matching children were. She instead began to berate my pregnant sister-in-law for her poor parenting choices (the two-year-old without shoes in December) and lack of integrity. I don't remember how exactly it all went down. All I know was that one of my tribe was being attacked, and while I tried to remain calm, once she suggested she call DCFS on Cindee's sorry butt, I just couldn't take it anymore.

I blew. The lady walked into the photography shop behind us to escape our combined wrath and I followed her into the store. I got all up in her face, pointing at her repeatedly and according to my sisters-in-law, throwing my head around in a very impassioned way. I defended Cindee's honor, told the woman her indignation should have been kept to herself and that she had no right to question my sister-in-law's parenting.

I then stomped out of the store to join the rest of the clan on the sidewalk outside. They were a little dumbfounded. (Also, they'd called the police about being harassed. I don't lie.)

But that wasn't all. Well-dressed meanie lady walked past us as she left the store and I yelled, "AND HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS."

Ooooo boy.

I tell this story to prove that patience has not been one of my strongest virtues (and also to provide you with entertainment. I'm just glad there's no video.)

Hebrews 12: 5-6 says " And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

Heavenly Father is the best teacher ever. He knows our weaknesses and he lets us have experiences (over and over and over) to chasten us, to strengthen those weaknesses. Sometimes we learn and grow and our weaknesses are strengthened, and then sometimes we follow a stranger into a store to scream at her.

This house-selling business has been testing my patience. Sometimes I feel like I'm learning quite well, and that I could continue the insecurity, the worry, the wondering for as long as the Lord sees fit. And sometimes I burst into tears...I'm just saying, it's not easy.

So the news is that we are under contract on this house. There's a story behind that, of course. But this weekend's story is this:

While getting ready for the inspection, we found some damaged drywall in our bedroom, thanks to a neighbor's broken sprinkler and the resulting flood earlier this year. After talking to our favorite contractor, we decided that we'd replace the drywall. (And by "we", I mean "David" and "Jeff" and "John". Thanks, guys.) Also, we decided to paint the outside of our sunroom because it was looking a little shabby. So we worked (and by "we," I mean "David.") Friday night until 3 am and all day Saturday. He took out a 4x4 foot section of drywall and cleaned the wall to the studs. He did a first coat of paint on almost all the sunroom. (He's amazing.) He was feeling good about being able to finish all the big projects by Monday night.

Saturday night at 8:00 we got a call from our realtor that the buyers want to have the inspection at 9:30 Monday morning.

So we considered working all day today to try to get ready. The ox is in the mire, isn't it? I mean, ISN'T IT?

But here's the thing. We've been blessed over and over and over again by minor miracles through the whole process. I guess I just don't doubt that Heavenly Father can pull off another one. So we're going to wake up early tomorrow and clean the disaster that is our house and see what we can manage with the wall and the sunroom paint.

And as I've said all along, if this move is meant to be, things will fall into place. If it's not meant to be, I guess we'll find that out after the inspection...

But, oh, I wish I were more patient. I want to know RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Yes, I'm Going There

A warning: This blog is about to get political. There are some of you who will want to click away from my blog immediately. You are welcome to do so and I'll have no hard feelings. I'll wait three seconds while you find something else to read.




OK. I now assume that everyone reading this has been warned and is ready to enter the Political Zone.

You ready?

(Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that all people who disagree with our current administration fall into the following categories. I have had great discussions with people recently where the dialogue remained calm and interesting. I appreciate learning from others and hearing others' opinions. I do not assume that someone who disagrees with me is stupid, flat-out wrong, or misled. That being said...)


I love being American. I love our freedoms. I especially love our freedom of speech, and I am fully grateful that people are welcomed, even encouraged, to spew their own personal hatreds wherever they'd like.

But I am so tired of hatred. I am so tired of anger. I am so tired of fear. I honestly want to cry.

I'm an idealist. I like to believe that millions of people working together can create solutions to help those who struggle in our great nation. I like to believe that millions of people working together will SOLVE problems, not CREATE problems.

What I am seeing now is that millions of people are choosing (CHOOSING!!!) not to work together. Rather than create public dialogue that is respectful and intelligent, so many people are choosing to sow fear. Do you know what you reap when you sow fear?

You reap disaster.

I have had emails and read comments lately that equate Obama with Hitler. They equate our society with pre-WWII Germany. They equate Obama's desire to talk to school children on Tuesday, encouraging them to take their education seriously with Hitler's desire to create Nazi Youth Brigades.

If I swore, I'd do so right now.

This is RIDICULOUS. Do you hear me? This is INANE, right? Except it's what people are saying. It's what people are believing.

Hitler used something called The Big Lie. Do you remember this from high school World History?

The Big Lie (German: Große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf for a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously".

Here's what Hitler said about using the Big Lie. (By the way, he was accusing the Jews of using the Big Lie themselves. Nice.)

All this was inspired by the principle--which is quite true in itself--that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.

This is my hypothesis. It is easier to vilify someone we don't agree with than to simply realize that intelligent people can have vastly different opinions. After all, if we get deeply entrenched in a belief, we have to assume that everyone who doesn't think like us is wrong. We have to assume that someone who thinks differently than us is not just wrong, but in some cases may well be evil. Enter Obama as anti-Christ, Obama as secret Muslim (and there's something so wrong about this accusation anway), Obama as non-American. The Big Lie begins. And then it spreads.

This is a quote from a message board my friend just sent me:

When Obama shows his birth certificate, then I might let him speak to my child. When Obama quits apologizing for America and Americans to other countries, maybe then!! When he quits bowing to Saudi Kings, possibly I'll think about it. When he admits he's a Muslim, might do it then......and when he explains why he sat under a radical, racist, Black-Panther preacher for 20 years, and only quit going when the media caught him........and please explain why Michelle, her mom and kids were allowed to sight see all over Europe in AF-2 at tax payer expense......and why her SNACK cost the tax payers $450 bucks at the Waldorff Astoria.......and when hell freezes over then and only then would I let my dead DOG sit and listen to anything Obama has to say!! One Big A$$ Mistake America!! Do ya have voters remorse yet? God help us!!

I will agree with this rabid poster about one thing. God needs to help us. Other than that one statement, I must say I wish I were shocked at the underlying rage under this post. I'm not. I've read this too much from too many people, and I'm terribly terribly sad about what it says about our society.

I ask you to think about your feelings on politics. When you start talking about politics, are you talking about philosophy? Are you talking about specific policies? Are you respectful of those who hold other opinions? Are you spreading fear? Are you suggesting positive improvements on policy? Are you specific in things you wish were different? Or are you allowing hatemongers to have their way with you? Are you part of the Big Lie?

I beg you. Don't allow your spirit to be torn by hatred.

I stay rather non-religious in this blog, but I want to share one of my favorite scriptural passages. This is from the Book of Mormon, and is from Christ.

3 Nephi 11:29-30 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

The Lord spreads peace. He sows peace and He reaps love. This is what I hope for our nation, that we can turn from hatred to love, that we can solve our problems together. Yes, that makes me idealistic. But I'd rather be idealistic than angry. So when you talk to me or to others about the things you see as wrong in our society, have ideas. Have hope. Be ready to be part of the solution, or just don't talk at all.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Twentieth Reunion, or My Novel on How I Was Young Once

Once upon a time, in a land far far away, I went to high school.

High school is not for the faint of heart (although I think it's slightly better than junior high school). Who came up with the idea of throwing a bunch of hormonal insecure adolescents into close quarters for years on end? Honestly, it's amazing that any of us make it out with any healthy self image at all.

Yup. That's me, shoulder pads and all. 17 years old. Feature page editor of the paper, French club president, drum line captain. Bundle of insecurities, searching for self, trying to move through feelings of self-doubt, learning to trust God, falling in "love" for the first time.

I have the unfortunate pleasure of having my high school journals on my bookshelf. They are not pretty. They are cringe-worthy. But they are revealing. I cared way too much about boys. I cared way too little about making sure I was a good friend. I cared way too much about what people thought of me. I cared way too little about what I thought of myself. But I did grow up. My journal entries move from revolting to increasingly self aware as time passed. And what I now read between the lines is this: I was surrounded by some really great people who were struggling to find themselves too. We thought we had it all together, and while we were mistaken, it was still nice to have each other along for the ride.

We lost touch, though, even those friends I considered almost family. Why and how did that happen? I'm guessing that in this new age of digital friendship, losing a friend to time and distance may happen less and less frequently. But in that time long long ago, life got in the way. Letters became more and more infrequent, long distance phone calls were expensive, and we just plain fell out of the habit of connecting.

And then somehow we got old enough to have a twentieth reunion in the near future. I know most of you are thinking a twentieth reunion is NOT in your near future. I thought that. I really did. When I went to David's reunion with him, I felt very smug in my young age. I thought everyone looked really old and somehow I knew I would always be protected from such an advanced age.

I can tell you this now...IT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU TOO. Oh yes it will, and you will be just as shocked as I am that you are of "that" age. Just you wait.

So maybe it's the fact that you don't FEEL 37. Or maybe you realize you've more than doubled your age since high school graduation. Maybe you start to pine for lost youth. I'm not sure, but I know that I started feeling this desire to reconnect with people who knew me back when, to find out where life had taken them. The lovely haze of age had rendered my memories sweet. Even the bad memories felt nostalgic.

So I decided to go to the reunion. (I didn't go to my tenth. I had no desire. Also, I was eight months pregnant. That is a deal-breaker for me. "Gee, Kerri, you look...bloated. I mean...pudgy. I mean...wow, does everybody get ankles that big when they're pregnant?")

Not being pregnant this time was a bonus. Plus my braces were off. Score.

Thanks to Facebook, it was easy to jump back into friendship with so many of my friends. Some of these friends decided they wouldn't come to the reunion (I could call them names, but I've grown past that.) My friend Lori and I decided to start the reunion by meeting on campus to run an old cross-country training route. (I did not run cross-country. I was too embarrassed by my exercise-induced red face and too embarrassed to take showers to do any sports. Sad.) Although the whole class was invited, only seven of us showed up to run. It was a great run, hilly and hard. My friend Lori planned the route. I will brag. I attacked those hills. I will brag about Lori. She slammed me on the flats. Perfect. We both have bragging rights about something.

The old campus

Kerri, Lori, Patti, Michelle, Glen, Tabetha

The runners at Polly's Pies, joined by Nicki

And then the reunion...

Honestly, I was a little freaked out. I didn't expect to be. It caught me by surprise. I think it was the mixture of not being sure if I was supposed to know everyone, but not recognizing everyone and all of those high school feelings flooding back. Whatever it was, it was weird. At one point, I didn't even know how to hold my hands and David looked at me and laughed. He said, "I have never seen you nervous like this and I think it's cute."

Not cute. Weird.

Other than being weirded out, I loved seeing so many people who had been so dear to me.

And I got an award: The Ball and Chain award for being married the longest. Yup. David married him a child bride.

Most embarrassing moment of the night: I thought I recognized a woman (girl? What do we call ourselves at this age? I'm just confused.) with a friend of mine. I gave her a big hug and gushed about how great it was to see her again. Then my friend introduced her as his wife.


I'd never met her before in my life. Maybe she just thought I'd had too much to drink.

Other observations:

As I watched the slideshow, I recognized big groups of my friends doing lots of fun things together. I wondered why I wasn't in the pictures. Then I realized I was too caught up in stupid boyfriends to have had the kind of fun with my friends that would have made better memories.

Stupid boyfriends.

A girl who gave me most of my bad junior high stories (PE bullying, being pushed into a pool fully-clothed...all good things) came up and renewed a friendship. Unexpected.

Some of my friends were hotties still, and some were hotter than they had been in high school. We grew up well. They are successful. They are happy. Many are making big differences in the world.

Teri, Francine, Tabetha, me, Francisco

Me, Mme McClung (our French teacher), Angie

The running group all dolled up

Finally, I headed to an after-party at my friend Christy's house. Christy and her twin sister Kathy were my first friends when I moved to Yorba Linda as a third grader. We laughed and reminisced and talked until all hours.

As I thought about the reunion as we drove back to Utah (so much time to think on that drive...) I realized that we really are a sum of all things we experience. For good or for bad, these classmates of mine are woven into the fabric of my character. The memories I have of them, and many I cannot even begin to remember, have created the Kerri I am today. I am more kind because of being mistreated. I am more careful because I mistreated others and recognized the pain I caused. I am more open-minded because of my friends on the right and on the left of the political spectrum. I am more respectful of others' belief systems because of open and frank discussions. I appreciate these people and all that they taught me 20 years ago and all that they continue to teach me now.

I'm so glad that I can look back on the last twenty (TWENTY!) years of my life and be proud of them. No lost years. No terrible decisions. There have been dreadfully hard times, to be sure, but my life is full of love, full of learning, full of grace. It's full of all the good things that my 17 year old self might have wished for herself if she had known what to wish for.