Utah or Bust

So we’re packing up and getting ready to go, and Jon is leaning over the luggage trying to rearrange all of our tall clothing. And my five year old niece is just standing there behind Jon taking everything in and looking a tad confused when she looks at me, looks back at Jon hunched over the mound of clothing, looks back at me and wonders aloud, “Joe Boxer?”

Ealier in the day she pointed out that her dog, Pepper, was “inspecting the bottom system” of our dog Chuck, so I asked her “inspecting the bottom system?” And instead of offering one of her usual logical explanations (like the time she was certain Jesus Christ was walking the earth in the form of Barry Gibb), she just repeated the expression, “exploring the bottom system,” about 25 times while twirling around in oblong circles like a crazed Aryan oompa loompa. My brother threatened that if she said it again, “exploring the bottom system,” he’d explore a spanking solution. She immediately stopped spinning, looked straight at my brother and said in the most matter-of-fact legal closing argument kind of way, “exploring the bot…um I mean solar system.” Then she skipped off to chew gum and put stickers on her little sister’s forehead.

We leave here in the morning, bright and early and achingly cold, and should arrive in Zion a few hours after dark, supposing we experience no run-ins between the Idaho State Police and our mobile, roving liquor cabinet. I’m experiencing an overwhelming mixture of emotions, including an extraordinary sadness at leaving such a wonderful community. I really like Seattle — the coffee everywhere, the indigenous green scenery, the shopping malls erected with materials and designs that mimic lumber warehouses — despite the fact that everyone here actually drives the speed limit, and that there is an inordinate number of people who wear matching brown belts and little brown shoes.