Monday, November 2, 2015

Tiny Moments

The recent death of someone I used to know has me looking at my daughter in a new way. This girl was about 10 years younger than me. I knew her during a very different time in my life. I look back at our interactions and hope I was not a terrible example. I'm not sure how she died, but I have my theories based on what I believe she has been through within the last few years. They are sad theories, involving drugs and/or suicide. I pray that these theories are wrong, for the sake of her family. But as I think about those possibilities, I look at my sweet girl and think, as you raise a child, you never know what their future will hold.

You never dress your tiny goblin in a cute dress and headband and think, "My daughter will likely overdose one day." You never play catch with your little man and wonder, "How many other children he will bully at school?" You never watch her play in the dirt and think, "One day, her life will be so overwhelming that I will find a tear-stained note next to her lifeless body." You just never know what your child will grow into. And while it is terrifying, it forces you to work harder as a parent and give them all the smiles that you have in your reserve.

As my tiny munchkin kept me up from 2:45-3:45 this morning, I looked at her sweet smiling face with loving eyes filled with awe. I kissed her little fingers, and sang her songs that helped her sleep in the earliest days of her life. It felt like she recognized them as her body inclined towards mine after only three or four notes sung. I remembered nights when she was only a few months old and I would stare at her as she nursed, marveling in the curl of her neverending eyelashes and how she would cross her legs at her ankles. I'll admit it was difficult to do during her moments of screaming or when my eyes would just start to shut and her spidey senses kicked in that mommy was getting some rest. But I forced myself to enjoy even the hard moments. Because you just never know.

I'm not sure why the loss of this young girl has hit me so hard. The only contact we have had in the last 10 years was a single comment of mine on a Facebook post of hers where she explained how her life had almost ended because she couldn't find a purpose in the world and could not process her feelings, how she had miraculously come out of a coma, and found a new lease on life. Perhaps it is because she was so young. Perhaps it brings up memories of a loss I suffered about 6 years ago. Perhaps it is the uncertainty of the futures of my own children. All we can really do is love them, support them, and give them the best examples we have to offer. Teach them about God and His love, and hope that they find the same belief.

Every moment has even the tiniest of impacts. It's a scary thought.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Goodbye Puppy

Tuesday morning, I woke up and walked into my living room to let my dog out to use the bathroom. I was not greeted by the usual clacking of his thick nails on my wooden floors. My feet were not licked from the mere joy of seeing me. I stood alone in my living room, surrounded by a darkness attempting to be penetrated by the lights of early morning. He was gone.

For over 10 years, Cole was the only constant in my life. He was the only boy that I kept around for long enough to call mine. After work, he would greet me with large barks from his tiny body and an excited running back and forth that made no sense and had no destination other than me. He would annoyingly beg for food on the rare occasions that we ate at the dinner table. He would vigorously shake a noisy toy as if it was a piƱata filled with steak that he needed to release. He sat at my feet as I studied for the Bar. Both times. Quietly encouraging me and comforting me when I could barely believe in myself. He filled my lap and let his fur soak up my tears when my then love lost his life in a horrific way. And on Monday evening, he quietly looked at me from the arms of someone else as I kissed him goodbye and walked away forever.

It’s interesting the habits that we develop without realizing it. Every time I walk into the kitchen, my eyes automatically go to the small space that used to be filled with one of his many beds. So many beds. That lady must have thought we were crazy with giving her so many beds. As I go deeper in, my eyes search to see if he has any food in his bowls. She has those, too.

When I first moved to Ireland, I used to think he was with me. Children would scream outside and I would expect to hear him bark. I would walk around and expect to feel him nip at my feet. I would hear the wind howling and think it carried with it the sound of him whining. He wasn’t doing any of those things. He was here. Without me. Now, he is somewhere else without me.
I wonder if he’s thinking about me. I wonder if he thinks he did something wrong. “Why did someone else abandon me? I thought this one was going to keep me. She loved me for so long. She snuggled me and let me sleep in her bed. She dressed me up in costumes when her silly football team had games. Her sister put sweaters on me when she would walk me in the cold. Why didn’t they want me?” I hope that’s not what he’s thinking. I hope he knows how much I have loved him.

I hope she’s being nice to him. I hope she’s being nice to my dog. I never actually expected that the day would come when he wasn’t running amok around my house (Amok! Amok! Amok!), or licking random things, or driving me crazy because he peed on something. Or standing at the sliding glass doors with his back rigid and his ears perked up and his drumstick legs straight as needles as he barked at a cat that had bravely ventured into our yard.

My dog used to do the funniest things. Although, I guess he’s not my dog anymore.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Nighttime Realizations

It is 10:51 p.m., late in the Tuesday hours. In the corner of my bedroom is a dim light, turning the air into a faded orange against the darkness of this ordinary night. There is a tightness around my eyes that comes from an exhaustion that only a mother knows when vainly attempting to find comfort in her pillow. Three feet away, Little Miss begins to shuffle around in her tiny version of a bed. These not-so-gentle movements can only mean one thing: she needs me.

I get up and reach in gently, smiling at her open eyes that merely look like bottomless black holes in the distance beyond my eyesight's abilities. But I don't need to be able to see to know that she needs me.

As she latches on for the first of many nighttime cravings, I look down at her tiny head with its streaks of black (and hopefully straight) hair. I think of the bewildered smile on her face earlier that evening as I gave her a bath with delightfully warm and comforting water but not yet any rubber ducky. I notice her tiny nose and think of the gargantuan boogers it somehow houses, growing deep in the tunnels of her sweet kissable nostrils. She seems content to keep them and puts up quite a fight at my attempts to free them from their tiny cave. But to get rid of them, to breathe properly, she needs me.

I look down at her tiny hand, spread out on my chest, grasping on to my tired, spit-covered shirt. There is a little dimple at the base of each of her fingers, where they meet that hand that so lovingly grasps onto mine. I gaze at her paper thin fingernails and remember how they were long and razor sharp on the day she made her escape. I think of how I carefully, and apprehensively, cut her nails in her sleep, wondering which movement will rouse her as I try to protect her from ruining her sweet face. I look at the place she had scratched herself earlier and know that, to prevent those red angry lines, she needs me.

My body sustains hers.
My body nourishes hers.

My body produces, on its own, without any effort on my part, all she needs to be properly fed. I watch her inhale this food. I see the milk drip down her face and soak my shirt. I hear her gulping it in and swallowing it quickly and breathing heavily as she takes it. I clutch her as she arches her back to get more or less or beg for a burp. I have finally learned to read her signs. The signs that she needs me.

As she finishes her meal, her eyelids droop, her neverending delicate eyelashes lay for a rest on her cheeks, and her lips loosen. I kiss her head. I place my cheek on her head and realize that this is MY child. For so long, I hugged the children of my friends. I snuggled them for stories. I offered to change their diapers. I even reprimanded from time to time. But this little one is mine. She was made by Husband and me. She grew in my body, stretching it to new capacities, new marks and new pains. She relies on me for so many things.

But as I put her back in her bed, put on a series of lullabies that only I will remember years from now after the batteries in the music player have worn out and rusted over, and gaze at her sprawled out like a starfish escaping into a land of dreams, I realize that I had it wrong. I'm the one who needs her.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Fear of Becoming a Working Mom

Mothers everywhere do it. They wake up at some unGodly hour so that they can feed their tiny human, wash the smell of spit-up off of their skin (which never truly happens), make themselves look halfway presentable, feed their tiny human again, and then drive off to be in an office for eight hours, realizing that a piece of their heart is still at home. It's not completely impossible to pull off.

But I don't wanna.

My leave ends in 3 weeks. It breaks my heart to think about leaving my little girl and I'm amazed to think of the women around the world who do it. It is an intense love, this motherhood gig. I spend my days watching her sleep, checking that she's breathing, smothering her poor face with kisses, and wondering if I'm doing anything right. I'm pretty sure that I am not. Not a single thing. Even the diapers must be on wrong. It is baffling that one can be covered in spit-up and think, "Okay, throw up all over me if it makes you feel better." And then to prefer that over being at work, earning money, talking to other people. She doesn't talk back yet so my conversations are rather one-sided at the moment. Although I am POSITIVE that she nodded her head in response to my question the other day. She's gifted, I know.

How do women do it? Some women have to go back to work because of money. Others are single parents. And even more just really like working and so they choose to go back. It's a little upsetting to think about how each of these groups judges the others. The happy-to-go-back mom thinks the stay-at-homers are too crunchy and not dedicated to their careers while the stay-at-homers think the happy-to-go-back moms don't really care about their children. The on-her-own mom usually doesn't give a darn because she is too tired to even think about any other mothers. And the desperate-for-money moms sit in a corner crying for whatever reason. Somehow, they all manage. They all get through the day and end up back at home with their babies. How do they do it????

I guess I'll have to figure it out sooner or later. Please pray that it's later. In the meantime, please excuse me while I go watch my baby sleep instead of changing into clothes that do not carry their own distinct scent. Her tiny mouth is so delicious!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Baby That Changed My Life

I left Ireland 10 months ago. Last September, we came to the States for a wedding in DC and then to visit the family here in Florida. While here, I was frantically trying to line up interviews so that we could start the process of moving over here. Towards the end of my vacation, I was offered a job! I was finally moving home! After talking it over with Husband, we decided that I would go back to Ireland for a week to say goodbye to the family and our friends, and to help pack up our stuff.

During that week, our lives changed. I had a feeling. A very strong feeling. But I gave it time. You never know when you could be wrong about these things. And then one morning, I peed on a stick. On two sticks, actually. A girl’s gotta be sure. In that moment, my world flipped upside down and tears were inadequate to express my joy. We were pregnant.

Everything from that point was a whirlwind. I left Ireland for good. I came home and started my first job as an attorney. I Skyped Husband as frequently as possible because he wouldn’t be joining me for 2 months. And everywhere in between, I slept. My first trimester was all about sleep and not wanting to eat. I was not one of those girls who threw up 14 times a day, thank goodness. I was the girl who felt nauseated all day, but didn’t throw up. The girl who didn’t want to eat ANYTHING and whose sister, and eventually husband, had to bribe and force her to eat. I was the girl who went to bed at 8pm and was still exhausted for the entirety of the next day. I was the girl who went into bitch mode at the slightest provocation (or Husband’s lack of dedication to engage in a pointless fight), but I’m pretty sure that Husband was used to that after being married to me for 2 years. And then that trimester ended.

The second trimester was pretty uneventful. Kept working. Kept hating my job. Got my energy back. Finally started to gain weight, but very little. Did I forget to mention that I was also THAT girl? Don’t worry. I make up for it in the last month.

At the beginning of my last trimester, I left my job. I was glad to no longer have the stress and to be doing something that I enjoyed more. My energy had again depleted. We had just moved into a new house. But my excitement was rising. We had two baby showers: one thrown by my sister and two best friends, and the second thrown by my parents and aunt and uncle. They were both incredible. We are so blessed. We started receiving amazing gifts from our generous friends, and I started gushing over tiny baby clothes that I thought could never fit a real human being (by the way, one of these ultra tiny outfits was actually TOO BIG for my average sized baby).

I was finally gaining hard core weight. By the time Baby arrived, I had gained 38 pounds! A whole 25 pounds heavier than I have ever weighed in my entire life. Baby was bungee jumping with my sciatic nerve and so I would randomly have pains shoot through my hip and down my leg. Thankfully, this rarely happened when I was driving. My stomach was HUGE. Towards the end, the doctors got a little concerned that I might have preeclampsia. After some delightful testing, they discovered I did not, but ordered me to be a couch potato and work from home. Let me tell you. BOOORRINNNGGG. I spent most of these days on the couch, working, with reruns of Grey’s on in the background. I found I was only comfortable without any pants on. Husband didn’t seem to mind.

My due date finally came. And went. Four days later, my doctor decided we should go ahead and schedule an induction. So on Saturday, June 28th, we went into the hospital with our bags, nice and calm and laughing, thinking about what would be the best and most difficult parts of having a baby in our lives. We were there by 5:30pm, and by 7pm I was being pumped full of pitocin to start the contractions. I gotta say, I wasn’t in too much pain for about four hours. My friends were not happy about this. I actually told the nurse at one point, “I’m not feeling much. Let’s crank this up a bit!” Yeah, I would soon be eating those words.

Around 11pm, the second my parents and sister left for the night, my stomach exploded in pain. And I spent the next 7 hours trying to avoid an epidural and trying to find a relatively comfortable position for this torturous hell. Nothing worked for too long. Finally, I gave in and got the epidural. The pain was just too much. Thankfully, I went into this process being open to this option and so I wasn’t TOO disappointed with myself. But let’s real, I was pretty disappointed. Unfortunately, it didn’t spread properly. I had one basically non-existent leg and another leg that was sort of numb but attached to a hip that felt like it was being stabbed with someone’s backwoods knife. So they upped the dose and I fell asleep and felt literally nothing (not even the pressure I had come to expect) until around noon.

I was finally completely dilated and ready to push!! It was time to meet our baby! So we pushed. Well, supposedly. I don’t know what I was doing, but I couldn’t feel it, that’s for sure. And after every contraction and attempt at pushing, Baby’s heart rate would drop. This was starting to make me freak out, but I refused to let that fear take over. We gave it some time. Flipped me around to give gravity a chance to work its magic, and tried again. Again, her heart rate was dropping. We tried all kinds of positions. In fact, my doctor told at our appointment this week that I was her most persistent patient in that I wouldn’t give up on doing it naturally and we tried more positions that normal. Her heart rate was still dropping, and now it was starting to get dangerous. This time I was disappointed. We agreed to a c-section, which neither of us had wanted. But we both wanted our little girl and so we moved past the disappointment and prepared for surgery.

It was so weird. I could feel the pressure of them cutting me open, but couldn’t feel any pain. Husband was right next to me the whole time, being just as supportive as he had been through the entire process. I could not have asked for a better partner. And suddenly I heard her crying. It was the most amazing sound. I could not even begin to explain how that felt and there was no point in trying to keep in my tears. She was here. We had been waiting for so long. Exactly 41 weeks. They cleaned her up (after she pooped all over the place on her way to the table) and plopped her right on my chest for some skin-to-skin. I was in awe. Where did she get these amazingly pinchable cheeks? Who is born with such beautiful eyelashes? How can fingers so tiny give me so much joy? Please do not scratch me with your scary talonlike fingernails.

The rest of the day was a blur. Quite literally. I was so drugged up, I don’t remember much else. I can’t really remember if I was holding her in recovery or if she was sleeping. I can’t remember my first time nursing her. But again, I’m the girl that doesn’t care about that. I’m the girl who’s completely obsessed with her baby in the present. I’m sure that will change. At some point, I’ll reflect on everything behind us, and think back to her first steps and words and days of school. At some point, I’ll drop her off at college, and listen to her as she tells me about some guy who has totally stolen her heart. At some point, she’ll marry that boy and pee on two sticks of her own and I’ll think back to the day I found out she would be a part of our lives. But for now, she’s just my little munchkin, sleeping in her bouncer, smiling in her sleep and dreaming her dreams. And I love every moment of it.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Our August of Holidays

As August is coming to an end, I am realizing that I have spent more days this month on holiday than I have at work. I’m surprised they are still paying me in real money. Well, euros are weird colors and certainly don’t look like real money, but the bank takes them and so will I.

At the beginning of the month, we took our first coupley trip to Germany, and really, it was my first trip to Germany that wasn’t merely taking a train into Frankfurt on a layover and throwing snowballs at Sister. Two of Husband’s (and now my) friends were getting married. He met them years ago while serving the Baha’i Faith in Haifa, and the friendships have remained so many years later. So I bought a pretty dress, we rented a car with an exorbitant insurance rate we weren’t told about until picking it up, and we made our way into Bad Lippspringe. It was a tiny little town, full of cobblestone streets, old people on bicycles, vibrant flowers attracting buzzing bees, and buildings without air conditioning or people that we could understand. Somehow we had found a country where neither of us knew how to say anything more than ‘Hello,’ ‘Thank you,’ and ‘I don’t speak German.’

We spent the weekend with old and new friends. We ate amazing Brazilian beef fillets, drank alcohol-free cocktails of all varieties, put on crazy costumes for photo booths and danced until the early hours of the morning. We witnessed two lovely people pledge their love to each other and obedience to God, while sitting outside and listening to the loud chimes of a nearby bell tower. We remembered the day that we made these same vows and spoke the same words to each other. And as Husband picked up my hand during the ceremony and gave it a sweet kiss, we watched a new marriage begin.

The following weekend, we went to Irish Baha’i Summer School. The last time I was there was two years ago, my first attendance and about a week before Husband asked me to be his bride. Due to the need to show up for a few days in order to earn those euros, we did not arrive until the last weekend of the school. When we walked into the plenary session, there was a man in his late years sitting at a podium. We had missed about 30 minutes of a talk by a man named Tomi Reicenthal, a Holocaust survivor who was there to tell us his terrible story. His story about being taken away at the age of 6 and not really knowing what was going on around him; his story of he and the other children in the concentration camp acclimating to the horrors around them and playing hide and seek around, and behind, piles of dead bodies; his story of the day his grandmother died in the camp they were in, and seeing her body stripped naked and thrown from a wheelbarrow onto one of these piles; his story that he never even told his own wife before she passed away years ago. He was a boy in Belsen.

While hearing his story, we were reminded of the Baha’is in Iran who are being persecuted only because they are Baha’is, so similarly to what caused these atrocities. That is how these things began. Everyone remained silent. The Holocaust did not start with gas chambers. It started with whispers. Something he said when he brought up these poor Baha’is really resonated with me. He said, “We have to shout. They have to know the whole world is watching.” That was how our weekend began.

The rest of summer school was just as wonderful, though less sad. As someone who has been singing my entire life, I was extremely excited to hear that Tom Price would be conducting some courses that week. What I had not realized was that he was also going to conduct a choir! He has conducted choirs all over the world, including at the Baha’i World Congress in the ‘90s. Singing with him is something I have always wanted to do. I knew I had to be in this choir. And when he said there were still solos available and asked if anyone was interested, I have to admit that my heart jumped into my throat and threatened to fly right out and hit him in the face while my hand shot up in the air like a 2nd grader who knew the answer to a math question for the first time ever. And two days later, where was I? Standing in front of the entire school, singing an intense solo in a beautiful and heart-wrenching song written by none other than my conductor, about the Baha’i Faith’s prophet founder, Baha’u’llah, and the trials and tribulations He went through in His lifetime. I’m not sure how I hit notes that were almost two octaves above middle C (or whether I actually did), and I’m still finding flaws that no one else even noticed, but I did it. And it made me the happiest I’ve been in quite some time. I had forgotten how much I miss singing, and how much I wish that I could do something with that love. Now that I have finished gushing about my favorite part of the weekend, I can continue. We CAMPED. I probably should not have lost my camping virginity to a rugby pitch in 50F weather. It wasn’t terrible, but was awkwardly convenient to use a portable toilet in the common compartment of a tent that had my in-laws sleeping on the other side of a thin sheet of opaque plastic. There was more singing, chatting with friends, eating greasy chips from the chipper at 1am, service to the school and its participants, beautiful prayers every morning, and many goodbyes (not in the tent, just in general). It was a wonderful weekend.

The last adventure of the month was my favorite and my saddest. SISTER CAME TO IRELAND TO VISIT ME!!! Some might not understand how we are so close, but she is my best friend. I miss her the most. In fact, I think I miss her more now than I did before she arrived. It’s like I slowly got used to not having her around and then was slammed in the face with the reminder of her awesomeness and how hard it is to be away from her. I won’t make that mistake again.

She game for a little over a week. I had to work so I couldn’t be there to pick her up at the bus station, but Husband picked her up, holding up the sign I made to welcome her to Ireland. He’s so good to me. As each second slowly trickled through my day, I became more and more impatient about getting home and hugging her. When I finally did, it was like nothing had changed. We were content with just hanging out. We were content with going out and eating. I introduced her to the few friends that I have here, and she fit in almost immediately. She reveled in the cool weather and got just as excited about it as I used to get before I knew better. We went to Fota Wildlife Reserve with the family, and saw giraffes drinking each other’s pee, and black monkeys carrying white babies. We sat at picnic tables for hours, more than 10 of us, sitting and eating and chatting about all kinds of things. Sister, Sister-in-Law and I went to Dublin, also! It was my first time going there for more than just reaching a specific destination and leaving. We went to see Regina Spektor in concert. She is one of my favorite artists and she brought me to tears. We originally only had 2 tickets, but SIL is a haggler and got a street seller down from €80 to €50, a much more agreeable price, and we all got to enjoy the concert together. After physically being unable to pull our eyes away from the train wreck that was a 20 year old couple who obviously were not permitted to ever see each other and thought this was the appropriate time and venue to profess their love without words, we got to hear the incredible voice for which we had traveled. Her voice was pure and smooth and trilly. Her words were funky and all over the place. She cursed when she missed high notes and she shyly and humbly thanked the crowd for their love and adoration. And she made me cry when she sang my favorite song and caused me to remember a life so many years ago. And the next day, we got back on the train and Dublin was over.

One more day of laziness and television and just being thrilled to be together, and then a lovely dinner at Husband’s Aunt’s house with some of the Baha’is in the area, including a pair of sisters who were here as musical travel teachers and whose harmonies made me and Sister realize that we needed to learn more songs to sing together. When we got home, Sister and I stayed up until her bus at 2:30am. When Husband and I dropped her at the bus station, I felt like I was losing a piece of my own heart. It feels morally wrong to be this far away from her. Like it certainly must be against the law somewhere, and I want to live with her wherever that somewhere is. But she left me, just as I left her. And I cried. And spent the next day depressed and trying not to cry every time someone asked how she was doing and how we enjoyed her trip here. Somehow it was hard to think of the fun we had: all the goofing around, the eating, the giggling, the trips, the animals, the time with family, the photos, the everything. Now that a few days have passed, I can see those things again. And I’m glad we are going to visit in a few weeks.

What an amazing month we had. I have a feeling it’s going to be hell trying to get used to a 5-day workweek again. Thankfully I only have to do it for 3 weeks before disappearing back to the sunshine for a month. Oh, what a wonderful holiday season.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fere's First Flurries

We had a group of friends visiting last weekend. There were stories, laughing and conversations silly, serious and over the top. It was a fantastic weekend. At 7am on Monday, Jeff woke me so I could say goodbye to everyone before their morning flights. He softly whispered, "Fere, I'm taking them now. And it's snowing." I shot out of bed and ran downstairs. I didn't even put shoes on. I ran past everyone to look outside, and there it was. It was light and delicate and was swirling and floating and disappearing as it touched the ground. I was ECSTATIC. I had a dopey smile on my face. I couldn't bring myself to go back to sleep because I didn't want to miss it. FOMO (fear of missing out, as I learned this weekend) is a dangerous thing. I have finally found something that I like about the cold: snow.

By 8:20am, I had been awake for over an hour, marveling at the beauty that is precipitation. Staring at it from behind my windows; twirling in it from my deserted driveway; inhaling deeply in the hopes I could remember its smell; taking photos and releasing tears that my sister wasn't here to play with in my first snowfall in 31 years.

Snow is something magical. It is a peaceful blanket, hiding everything that is ugly and allowing the city to start over. It is hypnotizing and playful. I sat up in bed, looking out of the windows, watching the children running in the snow before being caged inside at school. I heard the little girls next door exclaim in glee as they left the warmth of their home.

The bottom edges of the windows actually fogged up, as though someone was blowing her hot breath onto them. It's not just something that a techie sprays from a can onto prop windows!! A thick layer of snow filled up corners and gave cars a chilly embrace, as wipers tried in vain to scrape it away and people poured hot water from the kettle onto the front windshields so they could start their day indoors at a desk.

As a thick darkness of night disappeared and I saw my present more clearly, I began to giggle. Each snowflake was like a fluff of cotton rushing to the ground. Some were so much bigger than I anticipated. Each snowflake's tiny collection of ice barely dampened my fingers as it said hello to my hand. Dads walked their sons to the school down the street (though a little late, I believe), with their fur-lined hoodies protecting themselves from my miracle. How silly. Let it fall on your hair! Your face! Your eyelashes!

Snow forgives what is beneath it. Snow forgives more than people forgive. It says, "Shhhh. Calm down a little bit. Here, relax. Come up with a solution, for soon I will be gone and you will have to try again." Perhaps people/couples should have some sort of calming agent, like snow. Something to say, "Shhh, collect your thoughts. Stop reaching and trying to be heard and seen. Just calm down. Now try again." Prayer is probably a good option. It is so calming and comforting to pray as a couple. It gives hope of a connection of souls incomparable to a connection of the bodies.

I don't live in Florida anymore. For so long, that has made me mad. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss the warmth. I feel unproductive. But I get to live somewhere else for a little while. I get to experience something new. I get to meet new people with accents I can't duplicate to save my life. I get to see mountains and scenery I never thought I would see, let alone live near.

And I get snow.