Mormons & Mountains

So. I’m back in Utah – a very sunshiny state with very shiny happy people – and not in a creepy Stepford Wives sort of way. The people here are genuine, they are kind, and they are young.

Northern Utah has a gazillion college kids, and even more post-graduates with shy toddlers hanging about their legs, chubby-cheeked babies upon their jutted hips. The 45-60 year-olds are less conspicuous, and I was curious about where they all were until I wondered if they are simply outnumbered as kids of big Mormon families grew into adults. No real science to support my quasi-conclusion, but this along with a few other idocracies makes Utah seem like it’s own little country. (I say with deep affection.)

I can really appreciate some of those very Utah things, in spite of how many people who know me questioned my move. Why Utah, they wanted to know. Most everyone I know equates Utah with Mormons, asking if I was going to be baptized, if I would become a sister wife, and ohmygod was I aloud to drink alcohol without joining a club? (Given I am, after all, a pretty efficient drinker, in polite terms.)

So, then? Let’s unpack this. Why Utah, anyway?

I speak Mormon really well–after all I was born and raised in the church. When I made the decision at 17 that my parent’s religion was not for me, I had their support. In fact, they told me directly that my relationship with God had nothing to do with them, and they encouraged a journey of self-discovery – with or without religion in my life. They said they had done their very best to do as Joseph Smith, the first prophet of the Mormon church, had advised; They had taught me [what they felt to be] correct principles, and now it was time for me to govern myself. I have an immense amount of gratitude and respect for their process, and it meant so much to a struggling teenage girl.

So in all this, moving to Mo-land is no biggie to me personally – although I most definately am working to curb my colorful language some. But moving to a city with a population of 100,000 and just three bars in town? People from home thought I was nuts. But, honestly? I ain’t complaining; not even a little. I’ve been vocal the last year about my struggles with alcohol – as I became uber aware of my risky drinking habits. And while I did a fair job of squelching those habits earlier in the year, returning to Maxwell’s this summer saw me quickly and easily falling into my old patterns of boozing it up after a long day of boozing up others. And here I am, eight days into Sober October, feeling great.

And, come on, the scenery? I mean, the Wasatch Range, a segment of the south-central Rocky Mountains, stands a mere mile or so behind my apartment. Every morning, I drag my sappy ass onto the balcony to take a gander at the massive string of granite intrusions stretching far as the eye can see, North to South. And this time of year? The rocks are blazing with color, as the leaves turn shades of dark red and burnt orange, shedding the greens of spring and summer. Even more exciting? Like clockwork, with October’s first day came a light dusting of snow to cover the very tips of the mountains – this while the valley is absolutely drenched in sunshine. I mean, really? Can I get an Amen!

I’ve procured opportunites as a contributing writer for Salt Lake Underground magazine, better known as SLUG, my cat is super happy being five stories up, looking down on the pee-ons, and I live with my lifelong best friend – a childhood dream of ours.

So, in the end, Utah overall seems a really good place for me to land for a while. I’m two weeks in – still in the honeymoon phase, sure, but Ima happy as can be. And, while the rigors of real life will settle in wherever I rest my head, I’m feeling pretty positive about the eight month commitment I made to stay here. It’s sunny, it’s happy, it’s beautiful. And I can’t see much wrong with that at all.

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