On a recent Sunday morning, as my 4-year-old son, Griffin, and I entered Portland International Airport, tears started rolling down his cheeks, and he pleaded, "I want to live in Portland!"

We had just spent a long weekend visiting a friend of mine from high school, Jennifer, and her family, who we had not seen for a couple of years. Jennifer is also Griffin's godmother. She and her husband, Rob, have three boys, 16-year-old twins and a 12-year-old.

So what happened in those three days to inspire my son to want to leave our beloved city of Tucson?

Was it the change in scenery and respite from the summer heat? As we drove through the city, Griffin would say, "That's the biggest tree I've ever seen." He played in parks with lush green grass and enjoyed the 70-degree temperatures.

Was it new, fun experiences? Exhibits at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Portland Children's Museum held his interest for hours.

We also visited a cool restaurant where we cooked pancakes on a grill in the middle of our table.

Was it the quality one-on-one time I spent with Griffin? This was our first trip together, just the two of us. For the duration of the trip, I wasn't preparing meals, doing laundry or dividing my time between Griffin and his brother.

Turns out, none of the above spurred Griffin's passion for Portland. It was Jennifer and Rob's sons: Max, Charlie and Henry. The boys played hours of soccer with Griffin. They pitched baseballs to him. They played video games with him. They made him laugh.

For a weekend, Griffin experienced all the upside of having three older brothers, and none of the downside.

It is so endearing to see a young child meet people and then, over the course of a few days, watch as these "strangers" become the child's "best friends." The emotion is pure. There are no complications.

Griffin, of course, didn't consider what would really be involved in moving our family to a new state. He didn't stop to think about how he would miss his grandparents or his friends at preschool. He was living fully in the present.

He had such an amazing time with those boys, and he wanted to have more fun; therefore, we should move to Portland.

Many warm memories and a reminder to live in the moment - wonderful souvenirs from our trip together.

E-mail Kelley Helfand at foothills@azstarnet.com