Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Women's Conference with a Stop at the Tulip Festival

This is me with one of my dearest, bestest friends, Sara. Sara and I met when we were each pregnant with our first baby girls. We talked every day on the phone when our babies (and then our second babies) were little, and we did all kinds of things together when we could. Then I moved up to the mountains, and she moved across the country for her husband's years in medical school, and we've each moved several times since then, but we've always stayed in close touch, sneaking visits whenever we can. She's been there for me in ways that are hard to even talk about because they are so sacred to me, and I hope I've been able to return some of the love and kindness and friendship she's offered to me, though I'm surely still in her debt. Because guess what she did for me as a graduation/turning 40 present? She flew me to Utah to attend Women's Conference!

Women's Conference is held at BYU each May, and I've never been able to attend (Sara has several times.) Women from all over the country (and Canada!) come for two days of uplifting classes. We get to stay in the dorms on campus, eat in the Cannon Center, and use the beautiful facilities on the BYU campus (it was like Lyndsay and I switched places! She came home and was watching the kids for me, while I was sleeping in the dorms where she'd just been! Made me kind of teary to walk in her shoes.)

It took two planes to get there. I flew from Burbank to Las Vegas, where I met Sara, who was in Vegas at a medical convention with her husband. We got on the same plane and flew to Salt Lake City. And we were both ready to heave-ho when the plane landed. Holy turbulent skies, Batman. When we arrived, we couldn't remember which company we'd rented a car from. But Utah is friendly, so we just went from counter to counter asking if our name was on the list. We finally found our reservation, all the way at the end. And then we stepped outside to go get the car.


Here I was coming from southern California, and Sara lives in the Arizona desert, and we were COLD. It was such a beautiful day looking through the windows, but outside it was 48 degrees. The wind was blowing, and it was snowing on the mountains. But we got our car and headed toward Provo. On the way, we passed a sign announcing that the Tulip Festival had been extended at Thanksgiving Point, and Sara knows how much I love tulips, so we pulled in for lunch and a tour. We were told it would take about an hour and a half to walk through the gardens, but since it was so cold, (and thank you, Sara!) she opted to pay for a golf cart (with a windshield!) and do a speedy tour, with a blanket. Good thing she can drive a golf cart! The tulips were amazing, but it was so cold. We stopped by a vendor truck and bought gigantic hot chocolates.

After the Tulip Festival, we got back on the highway and headed to BYU to check into our dorm. I was so happy to be there. We went over to the bookstore and spent a few hours perusing (and I bought some fudge! BYU Bookstore Fudge is incredible!) and then we had a fun evening just chatting, catching up, and deciding which classes we wanted to take in the morning.

Here is a shot as women gathered in the Marriott Center for the opening session. (Opening and closing sessions were held here, all together, and then we split up and attended our individual classes during the day.)

On the first night of the conference (our second night there) there was a concert held in the Marriott Center. I learned that my friend Hilary Weeks would be one of the performers, so I was able to get in touch with her and she had Sara and me come through the secure entrance and gave us floor seating near the performers.
Sara is also a Hilary Weeks fan, so it was fun for her to meet Hilary for the first time. And I always love any chance I can get to see her.

We were able to snap a quick photo together after the concert. Me, Hilary, Lynne McLean (Michael McLean's wife), and Sara.

Fortunately, for the two days of the conference, the sun came out in full force and it was perfectly lovely. The classes were wonderful, I ran into two old friends from different states that I've lived in and hadn't seen in ten years, and we ate until we were sick. The food was amazing everywhere. The Cannon Center had the most delicious breakfast and dinner selections, and there were treats and food carts all over the campus. I had so much fun just eating. But the best part was being with Sara. Usually when we're together we're wrangling our children. Or we're chatting while cooking, or cleaning, or running errands. For three and a half days, we just got to be together. And it was such a privilege. Time away from our busy lives is a rare commodity. A lot has happened to each of us since we met all those years ago. I love having a friend that has seen me through all of it (I'm very blessed with several incredible friends like this.)

The memories of being with her will last me a long, long time, as will my gratitude that she blessed me with the chance to go and have the experience. And I took pages upon pages of notes of each of the speakers and classes, and I've already gleaned more from reviewing them.

So grateful, Sara! I love you!


Megan said...

So. Much. Fun! (I love tulips, too! Thanks for letting me live vicariously!)

Anonymous said...

What a great post! I love you too Miss Jenna and wouldn't have wanted to be with anyone else at women's conference!

Luisa Perkins said...

I didn't know about the tulips! Gorgeous.