Tag Archives: Weddings

Mo-Town, and other stories

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I have finally – with the help of back-to-back Alias episodes and a pretty indecent amount of Phish Food ice cream – finished sorting out photos from the last week of our trip. So here goes!

We drove from Ashland to Salt Lake over the course of a day. We figured it would be easier to handle a road trip than another flight with the boys – I mean, if you have any conception of how often H needs the loo, this is pretty obvious. But actually, this was one of my favourite days. We stopped at three-hourly intervals for petrol, snacks, ice cream and to stretch our legs, and in between listened to Roald Dahl and Harry Potter, sang very loudly, and saw some magnificent scenery. Somewhere in Nevada we spotted a sign for ‘Deeth Starr Valley’, and thought ‘hey, nice Star Wars tribute; shame they couldn’t spell it’. Turns out Deeth and Starr Valley are two separate places, but next to each other. If they don’t get together for a sci-fi film festival every year this life means NOTHING.

The last part of the journey, before it got dark, ran through the Utah Salt Flats. We hit them just at sunset. Excited to see family and entering the twelfth delicious hour of binging on M&Ms. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that feeling.

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Then Utah! Another place I’d never been but was excited to see. After so many distant horizons it felt very odd to sit in a valley entirely ringed by mountains. The sun rises in the morning behind them, so by the time it peeks over the top and into your living room it’s hot and full, all of a sudden. We were there for my brother’s wedding at the end of the week, so that was the most important thing, of course. But there was plenty to see, too, especially for a 30-something Mormon who’d never been before.

The first weekend was General Conference for our church. Which we normally watch under blankets in our living room, with plenty of M&M’s on hand. Since we were actually there this time, we went to the real thing. It was very surreal.

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Guys, you do not know how much I am praying that some of those mother genes have come this way.

Lots of other lovely buildings around Temple Square, including the eponymous temple.

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We were staying with my brother and sister-in-law – and their cat, Moses, much to the boys’ delight (Moses could not be reached for comment. I think Ted’s demented ‘Where is Moooooseeeey’ rallying cry is still ringing in his ears). We took up so much of their space and ate their food and terrorised poor Moses night and day, and they were the absolute BEST for putting up with us. I kind of want us all to move into a commune now; could this happen; let’s try.

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After the weekend we paid a visit to the Museum of Ancient Life, otherwise known as the BEST dinosaur museum you have been to in your liiiiiiiife. There are more assembled dino skeletons than I have ever seen, including the really cool ones like the supersaurus, taking up an entire hall by itself, and a triceratops, and that gnarly one with the bone crown on its head that it uses to fight with (you know the one). There were mammoth skeletons and sabre-tooth tiger skeletons, huge terrifying prehistoric fish skeletons in abundance, lots of interactive exhibits, and – best of all – a bit at the end where they could dig out a fossil for themselves in a big sand pit. I’ve gone on about it too much now, but we are pretty much breathing dinosaurs in our house at the minute, and the boys were beside themselves.

They both got a dinosaur toy from Grandma at the end. ‘I’m going to call mine Chomp!’ said H.

T wanted to copy (standard) but misheard (also standard).

‘Mummy, listen! Listen! Mine called Jump too’.

We had a free day mid-week, so took a road trip down to Moab and the red rocks. Oh my. We took our lunch down a kid-friendly trail, scrambling through a canyon and dislodging irritated lizards. It was the kind of day where you keep saying ‘look – will you LOOK at that?!’, even though you know it’s getting annoying. I couldn’t stop looking. We could’ve spent a week there. Maybe one day we will.

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On the way back we drove through a dust storm, in a valley like wide, flat bowl. There was a raised railway line just to our right, and all of a sudden a big flock of tumbleweeds came rolling over the top and down past the car. Some of them were as big as armchairs. I like to think those were the alpha mamas of the pack, and they were leading them all off to a better life. Before we went home we spent the evening with some lovely friends, who used to live in our town years ago, before they moved back to the States. They had not only a dog but ROOMS full of toys the boys hadn’t seen, and I feel like between us we nearly died with happiness.

The next day, in between various wedding errands, we hiked up to the big Y on Y Mountain, in Provo. (The story of why there’s a giant letter painted on this mountain is a weird, torrid saga involving forcible head-shavings and heat exhaustion.) We managed to get up there without anyone shaving their head, though we took the pushchair halfway up, and pushing it nearly gave Tim a heart-attack. Good views, though. Excellent views.

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Then a wedding, a wedding. I love a good wedding, and this (we hope!) was our last one. The service was in the morning, at Provo City Center temple – a gorgeous brick structure with turrets and arched windows and stained glass in abundance.

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My brother, we all agree, got astonishingly lucky. We love this girl.

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We had a lunch not long after, including root beer floats for dessert and some speeches and games afterwards.

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Then we finished the day with an evening reception. Waffle bar, photo booth, first dance, tears. A dance party afterwards where we all jostled together and everything felt hilarious. We saw them off with confetti. We said goodbyes that were too brief and too sad. And we left. After all this time, it never doesn’t suck.

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So concluded the trip we christened #Whereismosey2016. We don’t usually take big travelling holidays, and the whole time we kept pinching ourselves that we were lucky enough to do this one. It was so good for the soul. Come back, come back! You were such a good one.

*rips open Phish Food*

Old friends. Bookends.


We spent our Saturday at the gorgeous wedding of my gorgeous friend. She is an old friend in the sense that we’ve known each other for over a decade, though also in the sense that one of us, at least, is much wrinklier than when we met.

(It’s me.)

It was the most beautiful wedding. The service was conducted by a sassy female minister in an old village church, bell peals showering over us as we arrived. Thankfully one of our group had remembered tissues, because we made it through our readings and then bawled. After the ceremony and some confetti, we moved to a reception at a nearby farm barn. We had the happiest afternoon I can remember in a while, eating canapés, taking photos, sitting down at an exquisitely laid table for an amazing dinner, sniffling through speeches, applying celebratory temporary tattoos, hogging the vintage photobooth, roasting fist-sized marshmallows over fire pits, dancing shoeless next to a smoke machine, and eventually turning down the pizza and cheese that kept appearing at our shoulders, because I’d eaten so much my sternum was bruised. And if you didn’t know it was possible to do this, you clearly haven’t been trying hard enough.

Everything was beautiful, thoughtful, understated. Em is that sort. She’s one of the kindest, loveliest people I’ve ever had the good fortune to know. She’s a good egg.

Spending time with old friends always gets me thinking about old friends. It is such a sweeping relief, spending time with people you’ve known for ages. There’s no need to have awkward first-time conversations about the fact that you don’t drink, or that you think nightclubs are a bit of a gross unnecessary faff, as it happens, because you got all that out of the way years ago. You don’t need to try to be cool, or worry that you’re not. You can talk about Elizabeth Barrett Browning; you can tell them how work is actually going (even if the answer is Not That Great). You can tell ancient jokes that are still funny. You can say things you didn’t quite mean and not worry about them thinking the worse of you. You hand over insecure confidences at odd moments without worrying they’ll be mishandled. You have twelve years’ worth of leeway to give them, and yourself, whenever it’s needed.

I am not so good at new friends – I am taking deep breaths and fixing on smiles twice a day in the school playground, and it makes me come out in cold sweats. But old friends, yes. Any day of the week. As long as we’re not in a nightclub. As long as we’re eating beef and cheese.

September 151

PS, I read this poem during the service. I practised it twelve hundred times in the weeks leading up to it (‘I HATE THIS POEM’, Henry exploded, towards the end), and managed to stay dry-eyed less than twice.

PPS, I missed out the stanza about thighs. I dunno, I might be a bit stodgy, but I don’t think thighs have a solid place in church.


Say yes.
That word on your lips
is a kiss;
is a promise already made.
We made it.

Love did not turn from hurt
or hard work.
When lights failed, it did not switch off.
When love had no road,
we willingly built it.

We shouldered its stones
and its dirt. So thank god
there are days like this when it’s easy.
When we open our mouths
and the words flood in.

Put the word of your hand
in mine.
We have learnt to hold to each other
when nothing was given by right;
how love will insist
with its ache; with its first painful
tug on the guts;

its snake in the nest of the ribs;
the bomb in the chest;
in the Y of the thighs; the red, red
red sun of it, rising.
How love must, at all costs,

be answered. We have answered
and so have a million before us
and each of their names is a vow.
So now I can tell you, quite simply
you are the house I will live in:

there is no good reason
to move. Good earth,
you are home, stone, sun,
all my countries. Vital to me
as the light. You are it

and I am asking.
Say yes.

Love opens a door
then slams it. It does.
It loses its touch and its looks.
But love needs its fury.
We have fought

and when times make it necessary,
we will again. When night draws in,
we won’t forget
how once the streets ran wet with light
and love. Like blood. They will again.

But for now,
we make our promises gently.
This extraordinary day we have made.
Listen –
the birds in their ordinary heaven.

Tonight the sky will blaze
with stars. Today, my love,
rooms bloom with flowers.
Say yes.
The sky is ours.

Clare Shaw


Yesterday, Henry and I went to my cousin’s wedding in Birmingham. I sat and watched them (from outside in the foyer – it wasn’t Henry’s day) as they said their vows, as they posed for photographs and came into the reception hall as husband and wife. I’m a sucker for a good wedding, aren’t you? I love the little rituals, the way I always cry when the bride turns the corner into the aisle and the groom takes a breath. I love how much it means to them, how they watch each other with wide eyes, as though they can’t believe they’re finally here.

I am sometimes guilty of wedding wistfulness, too – westfulness? Wisting? – and watch the bride and groom wishing for our early days of marriage, when the house was fresh and unbumped, and everything was so exciting. No matter where you are in your relationship, you never get that breathtaking discovery back. I was sitting, westfully wisting in the corner of the reception hall, wrestling with Henry and wishing Timothy were there, when the father of the bride got up again.

He was a small, Peruvian man who’d given his speech quietly, with pauses to find the right English word. His speech was incredibly heartfelt, with no showboating and not many jokes, and I’d liked him enormously. I wondered what else he wanted to say, now all of the speeches were over.

He said that people sometimes asked him whether he wished for the early days of marriage. They wondered how the marriage relationship could possibly stay the same after three decades and lots of children. His answer was that it never did stay the same, but that it was so much better and richer now than he could ever have hoped, right at the beginning. Why would he want it to stay the same? They had had a lifetime of experiences together that neither of them would wish away.

He proposed a toast to his wife. We all lifted our glasses. I cried like a big sap.

I drove home with my foot flat on the accelerator, knowing that Timothy was finally home and waiting for us, that we were four-and-a-half years richer for each other and that neither of us would ever, ever wish it away.

I was really glad to be home.

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