I drove through Utah as I moved out to Seattle in ’96. Stayed with friends and left my credit card at a restaurant…we managed to recover it the next day. Tipped the person handily.
My second time there was for Nationals in ’04. I had a Public Forum team qualify that year. One of the kids was a 14-year-old sophomore—actually, her birthday was in July, so she wasn’t even 14 yet--and it was I'm fairly sure, her first time away from her parents. I remember how very nervous she seemed…until about ten minutes after the plane landed. Then, she realized how fun this would be, and she had a fantastically wonderful time.
But the #1 memory is of my big sister Debby, who chaperoned for me that year. For her, that trip represented a similar first—the first time she’d been away from her children. She’d spent, I believe, perhaps every single night of her previous 12 years where my autistic nephew had been—and, of course, the two younger sons that were born 2 and 5 years thereafter. So heading down to Salt Lake City to judge some extemp was quite a step for her, too. Like my student, she was absolutely overjoyed at the chance to be on her own. At one point, while chilling out and reading a book uninterrupted, she said something to the effect of “Do you know that I haven’t had a SINGLE PERSON ask me a SINGLE QUESTION all day today? This is fantastic!” We spent some good sibling time together, walking through Temple Square and checking out the sights. We may have been having a little too good a time together, I guess, since one of the many horse-and-carriage operators came up to us and asked if we wanted a nice, romantic carriage ride around town. Needless to say, I totally broke out laughing. The carriage driver asked me why I was laughing.. “I have my reasons,” I said, and decided to leave it at that.
Fun week. I’ve always felt very tight with Debby, so it was great to get so much one-on-one time with her. And I know she felt the same way, even if it was merely to get her first kid-free week since becoming a mom.