Remember a long time ago, when I wrote about selling my house? Or last month, when I wrote about how a 99 cent plastic statue of St. Joseph may have helped me sell my house? Well, what I haven't written about is where I moved after I sold my house. And I guess it's time to 'fess up and make the announcement:
I moved to Salt Lake City.
Now, what I want to make clear is that although I have moved back to the west and am damn glad to be here, I have not moved BACK to Utah. One thing that offends me no end is when people assume that because I grew up Mormon, I am FROM Utah. I am not FROM Utah. I am FROM Arizona. Check out my archives: the first topic listed is Arizona. There is no topic in the archives for Utah, because it has never been, until recently, my home. (Though I did add, in May 2009, an SLC stuff category.)
Until late this summer, the only significant amount of time I spent in Utah was the two months I was at the Missionary Training Center, a place I loathed as I have loathed few places in my life. I never went to BYU. I never wanted to go to BYU. I always vowed I would NEVER live in Utah.
And then I moved to Salt Lake City, and I freakin' love it, in ways that continue to surprise me and would disturb me too if it weren't much nicer to like one's home than to not.
It's so amazingly beautiful here--that's the first reason I love it. OK, the mountains here aren't quite as cool and idiosyncratic as the Catalinas north of Tucson, the vegetation not as funky. But late summer here was merely quite hot rather than FREAKIN' BLEEDIN' HOT, the way August is in AZ. And fall has been AMAZING. I love seeing the snow on the mountains. And you know that thing everyone says about the heat in Arizona, how it's a dry heat, and therefore not as oppressive as if humidity was involved? The same goes for cold: it's a dry cold here. You don't feel chilled to the bone the way you do when there's a wet wind blowing off some massively unfrozen great lake.
And Salt Lake City itself is great! It seems more cosmopolitan than many cities its size. There's stuff to do. It's easy to navigate (aside from the construction messing up the roads). It's affluent without being completely horrifying and gross. And I especially LOVE MY NEIGHBORHOOD. The architecture is interesting and fun. OK, there are lots of Mormon churches close to my front door, in every direction. But they are matched by an equal number of cool independent coffee shops. Seriously, I can get four different kinds of strong, delicious non-corporate coffee within three blocks of my home.
I honestly think my neighborhood is probably the most liberal place I have ever lived in my life. Before the election, there were as many Nader/Gonzales signs as McCain/Palin signs--and there were 20 times as many Obama/Biden signs as either of those.
The rest of the state is another matter entirely--it's a really red state, one of the reddest. I face certain challenges when I venture far from my very pleasant home. But it's nothing I can't handle and more than amply compensated by how great SLC itself is. Particularly after living for five years in a town as intellectually blighted as Erie, Pennsylvania.
And despite the fact that I can see the spires of the Mormon temple from the stairwell of my apartment building, I feel oddly insulated from the church. I remarked on this the other day to a friend, who said, "Absolutely! It's like living in the eye of the storm. The real impact is somewhere else. Here, it's pretty calm."
It really is strange and I wouldn't have believed this was the case before I moved here. But while you might be more aware of the church here in Salt Lake than in other places, you're also more aware that ultimately, it doesn't change how you want to live your life, and doesn't have much effect on how you can live it, aside from weird limitations on your ability to purchase booze. (And even still, Utah's liquor laws aren't as weird as Pennsylvania's. At least I can pick up a six-pack of beer at the grocery store here, something I couldn't do in PA.)
However, in California, for instance, it's another matter entirely, especially if you're gay--but as I say, that's the havoc and destruction wrought by the hurricane that is Mormonism. If you were an entirely secular, selfish resident of SLC, you'd never have to know anything about the misery Prop 8 has unleashed elsewhere. And maybe I am too insulated here, but I remain sanguine and hopeful that Prop 8 will be overturned soon, either by the courts or another ballot initiative. Of course, I'll be doing what I can to help the process, via protest and other means.
Anyway. There were things I couldn't really blog about until I clarified where I live now. So I've done that. But just to recap, please, please remember: I now live in Salt Lake City, but I AM NOT FROM UTAH.