Old-fashioned rail journey?

Do you ever look around you at your life and think, “How in the world did I get here? This wasn’t the plan, I don’t love this. And why can’t we go to Disneyland more often?”

Here’s the thing. Our ticket out of Las Vegas is almost non-existent. Jason, in his awesomeness, has specialized himself right into a career corner. There aren’t very many people who do what he does, so there aren’t very many places for those people to move.

We’ve had this Big Dream of moving home to Washington for a really long time. Five years ago we literally bought the farm and every once in a while we make a trip back there so we can drive out onto our beautiful dream property and envision a life of rainy days and chicken coops and horses and grandma only six minutes away.

It sounds too good to be true. It feels like it as well.

There’s this quote by Gordon B. Hinckley, one of our dearly departed Mormon prophets. I really detest this quote and when I was a young 18-year-old and first heard it I thought it was bunk. Not because I didn’t believe it but because I couldn’t bear the thought that it was true. Rose colored glasses, right here. He quoted this in a talk to young single adults (worth the read, it’s an amazing talk).

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.

“[The fact is] most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. …

“Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.

“The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

This rubbed me wrong. It was 1997, I was young, I still had 7 Up running through my veins, I was sure life was going to be all vistas, all romance, all thrilling high adventure.

I’ve been humbled over the years. All our high adventures in Europe were 80% delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, and the vistas went by so quickly sometimes I missed them.

In hindsight we laugh about the time Harry ran into a post in Marseilles and almost broke his nose, or the time Jason split his head open the night before we were supposed to board a cruise ship. Now we think it was funny that our tire blew out on the side of a mountain and we missed half our scheduled day trip to Konigssee waiting for a tow truck, or that we spent our week in London racing from WC to WC because everyone had a stomach bug.

But even so, there were vistas. I miss them. I’ve been feeling like I don’t have very many these days. Cinders and jolts, life has ceased to be very fun.

On Tuesdays I take Rex to Sport Social, a recreation center for Autistic kids. He’s adamant that the girls don’t ride with us and has claimed it as his “time with Mom.” We make the 15 minute car ride while he tells me all the details about his week, about school, about art and PE and music class.

I had been thinking about cinders and lack of joy when he got in the car.

“Mom, today we got to sing a song about birds in music class,” he started to tell me. “I got chosen to be one of the birds! There were four birds and we flew around the room while the class sang.”

This made me smile. Rex loves birds. Loves them like he’s memorized all the state birds and can recite to you which bird goes to which state and why. Last night at FHE he did a bird game and we had to guess the bird.

“Rex,” I said, “I bet you loved that. Did you fly?”

“Oh…oh yes,” he said, “I flapped my wings nice…and…slowly.”

The happy hit me really hard when he said that. Boom. Vista. Right there. My 15 minutes in the car with Rex every week is a built-in vista.

From now on we’re taking the back road and leaving a little earlier on Tuesdays.