I pull out of the parking lot at Leta’s school, take a right and settle in behind a line of cars in front of me. Leta calls out from the back seat, “Mom, am I going to live in Salt Lake City when I’m older?” I find it profound and am a little relieved that this discussion isn’t going to involve penises or death.
“Well,” I say. “That’s up to you. You can live wherever you want to when you’re older.” Which is partially true, I guess. I mean, we love Utah, but we live here because all of our family is here, and family is more important than year-round awesome weather. DID YOU HEAR THAT, MOM? I CHOSE YOU OVER CALIFORNIA. Just in case you need to alter your will, you know. Consider this a friendly reminder.
“But what if I want to live in Salt Lake City when I’m older?” Leta asks, now worried and leaning forward in her seat.
“Then you can live here. No problem.”
“Because,” she continues, “if I live somewhere else a tornado might pick up my house and throw it around.”
“Salt Lake City doesn’t have tornados!”
Well, yes, but we have Mormons!
Just kidding, Mormons. You know I love you and your caffeine-free soda. And if my past experience is any indication, many of you are great kissers.
We’re barely a block away from home, and I start to explain why she really doesn’t need to worry about tornados right now. Tornados or leprechauns or spiders. Except, she is my daughter. And this anxiety comes naturally. I think I probably had this same conversation with my own mother when I was her age. And no one could really say anything to make it better. And so as we pull into the driveway I stop the car, pause for a second, lock eyes with her in the rearview mirror and say, “Everything is going to be okay.”
And then I repeat it: “Everything is going to be okay.”
I’m pretty sure I was trying to comfort both of us.