A Week in College Town

February 8 – 16, 2017
Searcy, Arkansas

I’m writing this post sipping a Valentine’s Day inspired espresso drink at Midnight Oil in Searcy, AR – the coffee shop that I frequently visited with friends during my college years to study, chat, listen to live music, and even complete pre-marital counseling homework with Brad during senior year.  I spent 4 years of my life in this small town, making some of my best and most special memories because it’s where I made some of my best and most special friends.  But nearly a decade and a half have passed since I was here.  It’s so fun to be here again, but also bizarre.  Everything is so different, but so much the same in the same moment.  Loads of new businesses have appeared in the city, and lots of new development around the Harding University campus.  But walking across the front lawn to eat ice cream in the cafeteria feels exactly like 2001 all over again.

Harding Front Lawn
Sunny has decided that she wants to go to Harding. Why?…..cereal bar in the cafeteria.
We stayed longer than originally planned because there are now $5/night RV hookups right behind the GAC! Staying on campus in Stumbo was a fun new Harding experience.

When I would think of this place to tell stories to friends in Washington, my memories of everything had started to become fuzzy. I could still picture the main avenue in town Race Street, I could still see the Bensen Auditorium where we attended chapel every morning.  I could easily recall this coffee shop I’m sitting in…but these memories had started to be covered in an ever-increasing fog of diminishing memory.  Even though I had delivered flowers all over this area and knew nearly neighborhood in town, much of what I was familiar with had disappeared.  It almost felt as if this whole world no longer existed on the same plane as my life in Wenatchee for 13 years.  So to be here again brings it all back to life in an electric burst.  Seeing campus brings back old feelings, old thoughts, and even makes me feel for a moment all of the same dreams and worries I had the first time I walked these sidewalks.  Exploring campus and the town slowly wipes the cobwebs away from the memories I have of this place.  The sensation is distinctly different from learning something new.  It feels very much like uncovering a thing in my mind that I already knew.

The girls and I spent one morning doing some school work at Midnight Oil, the coffee shop where I spent many an afternoon or evening during college. Brad & I had many dates in this room.

It’s also interesting which memories have become distorted over time.  When I went to chapel in the Bensen, something I’ve been wanting to revisit for years, I was struck by the thought, “It’s smaller than I remember.”

I came to Searcy ahead of Brad and the girls to help out during the Valentine’s Day rush at Corner Florist & Gift where I had a part-time job in 2003-04.  It was an exhausting but fun week of delivering flowers, making snack baskets, taking Valentine’s orders, blowing up balloons, answering phones, and joking around with people that were a big part of my life so many years ago.  It was wonderful to catch up, and even better to feel useful.  It turns out just as I expected – I actually like working.  It meant that Brad was home with girls, which is very impractical for us at this point in time, but I think it was a nice change of pace for all 4 of us.

It was so fun to catch up with Debbie and work in her flower shop again for Valentine’s Day week.
so….many….roses…. I spent hours stripping off thorns & leaves to prepare for the Valentine’s Day rush.
So many orders are placed for Valentine’s Day that they rent a refrigerated truck the week ahead of time to keep all of the arrangements perfect until the big day!

The first couple of nights before Brad & the girls arrived in Searcy with Stumbo, I stayed with some of our great friends the Princes.  I really enjoyed getting to have them to myself to catch up before my family arrived.  The over-the-top adorable, Landon, and I connected over the fact that chocolate is our favorite food in the whole world.  He talked his grandma into taking him to the store after school the next day to buy Nutella & graham crackers (I had told him those was my favorite Nutella-catalyst) so that we could have a Nutella Party that night.  I really like how this kid rolls.

Landon hosts a mean Nutella & Milk Party!

On Saturday morning Kristen treated me to go along to her weekly yoga class.  It was the first time I’ve ever been to an organized class and it was surprisingly invigorating.

Landon also treated the girls to a Saturday morning at his yoga class.
Coral the yogi
little warriors

While I spent lots of days and hours at the flower shop, Brad & the girls enjoyed more meals and play time with the Princes.

We also had the joy of seeing Brad’s cousin Cassidy who is now a freshman at Harding.  It’s insane that she was our 6-year old flower girl the last time I was in this town!

The girls have heard us talk about “college” so much, but really had no concept of what that meant. It was so cool to watch them learn about what a university campus is like. We loved getting to see cousin Cassidy’s dorm room!

On Sunday afternoon, the Princes, Cassidy, and our family went out to our wedding venue, Wyldewood Retreat Center, and had a picnic where Brad & I exchanged vows.  It was a beautiful afternoon that felt more like June that February, and it was such a meaningful thing to watch our kids play on the dock, feeding bread crumbs to the fish in the pond that is in the background of all our wedding photos.  To be there with our flower girl, now all grown up, made it even more special.

A beautiful day for a picnic & nostalgia at Camp Wydlewood Retreat Center – our wedding venue from 2004.
They found a crawdad in the creek!
Standing in the spot where we exchanged vows, almost 13 years ago!
And we brought our flower girl with us! One could argue which one of us has aged the most, but Cassidy definitely wins the award for biggest change in height!
This is a remake of one of our engagement photos that we took on this very hillside. We realized in the middle of our picnic that we were using the same picnic blanket! The only change is the additional persons…
We went by the first house we lived in after we got married! (it’s gone…)
While I was working late on Valentine’s Day, Brad and the girls had their annual Daddy-Daughter-Date night. They wanted to go somewhere fancy. Brad got out voted & they went to Sonic….again.
One day while I worked Brad took the girls on a hike to see some waterfalls near Heber Springs. They even got to hike behind this one.
Sometimes they really are as sweet as they look. (…sometimes)
Brad & the Princes caught some UFC in Little Rock.
Movie Night!
Landon was finally our first overnight guest in the third bunk. I’m not sure how much sleeping happened, but they all had a blast.
We SO thoroughly enjoyed all the fun we had with the Princes during our week in Searcy.

2 Comment

  1. Megan says: Reply

    What a fun trip down memory lane! And you can never go wrong with that Prince Family.

    1. sarah says: Reply


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