A Tribute to my State and Community

Yesterday, an unexpected, but inevitable thing happened to me.  For the first time since we started this Foreign Service process I actually teared up.  I ran into an old friend of mine named George Durrant.  We talked for a few minutes about our move.  He asked when we were leaving and I said in just over three weeks.  He put his arms around me and said, “Then this is probably goodbye.  I’ll never forget you Erin.  You’ll always be an angel to me.”  That’s all it took, I was in tears.  Then again today, while preparing our air shipment, I ended up having a good, hard cry.

Please don’t take my tears as tears of regret or second thoughts.  Rather they were tears of gratitude for the people and the community I have lived in and among my entire life.  So, maybe this week before Thanksgiving it’s fitting that I pay tribute to the state and community that I love and call home.

What do I love about the state of Utah?  Here are a few of the countless things:

Soaring mountains that have always been like a protector and comforter to me, four distinct seasons, Lake Powell-aka  The Happiest Place on Earth (no offense Disneyland, but you don’t hold a candle), stunning canyons, the greatest snow on earth (it even says so on our license plates), the red rocks of southern Utah, Pioneer Theater, the Utah Symphony, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Brigham Young University (Go Cougs!), smoke-free public places, Temple Square at Christmas, respected Governors-past and present.

Now a few of the countless things I love about my community:

Good and safe schools with some truly wonderful teachers, a church on practically every corner, Cafe Rio, very low crime, great neighborhood parks, wonderful walking paths, sports and arts programs for my kids that don’t expect kids to play or perform on Sundays, the unwritten law that schools and teams don’t schedule events on Monday nights so that families can spend that evening together, the other unwritten law that Sundays are for families and not a day for kids to play with friends (i.e. We don’t have kids ringing our doorbell to play with our kids on Sundays), caffiene-free Diet Coke available at every gas station, book clubs, not having to worry that my kids are safe when out and about, emphasis on families.

But what I love most about my state and community has to be the people who call this place home.  I have the best neighbors who truly care for the welfare of my family, I have an incredible church community-most of whom I view like family.  I have great friends who are wonderful examples to me-I love them dearly.  I have neighbors who take the time to care-like the two women who came over after my dad died and spent an  hour and a half with me-comforting me as I cried and cried-shedding a few tears of their own for their deceased fathers.  In my community, we bring dinner after the birth of babies and send thank you notes for the tiniest acts of service.  Utahns are generally educated, giving, compassionate, respectful and trustworthy.  Families are the number one priority and we will do almost anything to see families succeed, our own as well as others.  We mourn for each other’s losses and rejoice in each other’s successes.  We care for one another in a unique way.

I am blessed, I am grateful and I am proud to call Utah my home.  So, the good-byes are starting and so are the tears.  In Ecclesiastes, the Preacher wrote: To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven . . . A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance . . . A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing . . . A time to get, and a time to lose . . . a time to love.

Now is my time to do all of these things, both for what I’m leaving behind and for what lies ahead.

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7 comments

  1. Glen · November 19, 2010

    Dear Erin,
    Thank you for your touching thoughts.
    I remember one particular family we said goodbye to in July of 1997. We were such very good friends and I didn’t understand that I would not see them again (or rarely). The years have come and gone and I realize, now, that at that moment I was truly saying goodbye. While those friends are important, I take great comfort in knowing that even when I cannot be there to say goodbye to you and Jason and your children, we will not ever truly be leaving in the same way as we leave our other friends.
    So, away you will go to a new world. You will make new friends and have wonderful experiences. You will say goodbye to some of those friends. But, you will never, ever, be able to truly say goodbye to your family friends. We will always be there.

    Love you,

    Glen

    • Erin · November 20, 2010

      Thanks Glen. That’s comforting. So I’m not going to say goodbye to you and yours. Instead, it’s–See you soon!

      Love You!

  2. Laura · November 19, 2010

    What a beautiful post, Erin! As someone who didn’t grow up in Utah and swore she would never call Utah home, I’ve found those same wonderful things. As I read your post I realized that there are many of those things that I’ve taken for granted.

    You’ll have fun on your new adventures, learn many new things, and make many new friends. But no matter where you go Utah will always be home. Bon Voyage!

  3. Lisa · November 19, 2010

    Erin, your post reminded me of my favorite quote when I start bittersweet pangs of having to say goodbye. It was given to me by my first college roommate, who I just saw for the first time in 19 years last year.

    “Do not be dismayed at goodbyes. A goodbye is necessary before meeting again and meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”
    ~Richard Bach

  4. Jeana Rankin · November 19, 2010

    erin This was wonderful. Thanks. Can I print it off and send to Sister Hillary? I love you and will truly miss the funniest Vt I have ever had.
    Jeana

  5. Charmaine Belnap · November 20, 2010

    Ditto to all of it. Miss it more than I can say. You are the person I want to grow up to be someday!!! Love you and your entire family; give them all big hugs from the Belnaps down in don’t-forget-to-put-Christmas-lights-on-the-cactus Arizona.

  6. Alix · January 28, 2011

    I love this post! My husband just joined the FS in September so it wasn’t too long ago that we had to say good-bye to Utah too! (Now I’m homesick all over again!) Best of luck to you and your family in Taipei, I’ve visited there many times and had a great time.

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