Saturday, December 5, 2009

Things I Miss (And Don't) About Utah. A List.

I was rather surprised at my feelings when my plane touched down last week in Salt Lake City on my trip "home" for Thanksgiving. I didn't feel like I was going home. I felt, rather, that I was visiting family away from home. It gave cause to reflect on why I would feel that way. I've since been doing an inventory on the things I miss, and don't, about Utah:

I miss the mountains. Not only are they beautiful and I wish that I'd spent time in them, but they are also my reference point for knowing where the hell I am at any given time. I could be bludgeoned with a tire iron, hauled into some remote field, and left for dead, and I'd still know exactly where I was, based on my relative position to the mountains. In Austin I have no clue where I am. Ever. If it weren't for my Garmin I'd be lost and starved by now. Incidentally I've named my Garmin "Stella." It makes sense that when she leads me astray or can't acquire satellites that I yell "STELLLAAAAAAAA!" It's poetic.

I miss seasons. In Utah we have four very distinct seasons. Hot dry summers, brisk beautiful autumns, butt cold snowy winters, and breezy lovely springs. In Austin we have insufferably hot summers and eight months of something else.

I don't miss shoveling snow.

I don't miss the religious separation of classes. This exists whether we understand it or not, whether we choose it or not. On some level, subconscious or conscious, there is a theological and societal wedge placed between the LDS and the non. I have done my best to bridge that gap and dissolve that line, and I consider myself an open-minded believer, but there will always be residual thoughts. "I wonder what that guy sipping the wine at Carver's story is. Was he born Momo? What changed?" In Texas I never ever EVER think along those lines. It is refreshing and healthy. I am elated that my kids will have an opportunity to grow up in this environment. I most definitely do not miss the religious zealots that alienate good people based on their beliefs or lack of conviction. Similarly I do not miss the narrow-minded, hard-hearted, jaded folk that form negative feelings and actions for an entire religion based on a handful of bad experiences with said zealots. If I followed that approach and formed opinions based on the way I've been treated outside the Momo-bubble, I'd hate half the free world by now.

I miss our monthly dinners and game nights with Spencer and Shane. Lots of laughs, great friends, and I can now braid a scarf with style.

I miss having my family and good friends no more than 30 minutes away at any given time. They are support when I'm sad, cheerleaders when I succeed, advisors when I'm conflicted, and always there to love me.

To a much lesser degree, however, I feel it important that I am not close to them....for a time. I am counting on this experience of distance being vital to the happiness and closeness of my immediate family. When your cheerleaders, advisors, and supporters are thousands of miles away, you are forced to create new solutions...hopefully within your own immediate family and newfound friends. I really believe this.

I don't miss The Holy War.

I miss going to concerts with my short-lived show group. We saw some incredible shows...Wilco and Ray Lamontagne were my highlights. The weekly Gallivan shows were always fun and something to look forward to.

I don't miss the crowds at the Gallivan shows. Whether it be the many thousands of preteen girls onsite to catch that one moderately decent song Iron and Wine had on the Twilight soundtrack, or the throngs of drunken frat boys looking for something to do besides shoot pool or watch MMA, that blessed event has gotten completely out of control. Three years ago I'd take my kids and we would dance on the lawn while the bands played. Now you can't even SEE the lawn, let alone sit or dance on it. People are crammed into that space like twitchy sardines too big for their aluminum prison. They either need to start charging at the gate or move venue. Or, my personal favorite, they should have a 10 question survey about the band(s) playing that night at the gate. If you pass with 70% or better then you can go in. Otherwise you fail and are sent to the E Centre to see Poison and Styx.

I miss a road and highway system that makes sense. Salt Lake's grid system is brilliantly designed. That's something we take for granted. It might not be the most creative system in the country, but it's sure logical. This Austin system of parralel freeways, tollways, and feeder roads, is a living nightmare.

I miss Utah traffic. Comparitively speaking, it is NOT traffic. It's a few cars on a dirt road. Try the parking lot Austinites know as I-35 at 3:00 in the afternoon. It's actually a great time to get some emails done.

I don't miss Utah drivers. In SLC, being cut off or not signaling before a turn is nigh unto an act of treason against the crown. All those drivers think they have a halo of 20 feet considered "safe space" around their car. Anyone that breeches that space is a mother %&@*ing piece of $[-]1T and deserves to be drawn and quartered in public along with their entire family. Circumstances mean nothing. There could be a woman giving birth in the back seat, or an undercover FBI agent chasing the spawn of Jack the Ripper, but if that safe space is invaded, you can count on some bald-headed dude with a goatee in a Hurley hoodie getting out of his '96 F-150 ready to beat your ass with a crowbar. Or at least throwt a bird and an F Bomb.

In Austin, people understand that the road is a matter of survival of the fittest. It's a Top Gun dog fight. It's like the Drow of Menzoberranzan and their unspoken code of treachery and deceit. All that matters is you don't get caught assassinating competing Drow families in the Underdark. Otherwise all bets are off. Just like the streets of Austin...deft maneuvers and jockeying of position is applauded. Just as long as you don't kill anyone or wreck the ride.

Mostly I miss my wife and kids. Ultimately home is where they are. If they are in Utah, then that's my home. If they are on Mars, let me be Martian. But I can't wait for December 27th when they can finally be here with me in Austin and we can make our home here.

I am grateful to the great state of Utah for giving me so much over the past three decades. By and large it is a lovely place to be. But I am also thrilled at the opportunity to make new memories and have new adventures in the great state of Texas. I guess life itself is an adventure, cliche as that might sound. Might as well embrace it.

Kindergarten Cop is on TV. Time to go.

3 comments:

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Our Little Family said...

Hey. I was just blog-stalking a few people and ran across yours. I have to agree with you on some of your points about not living in Utah. My hubby and girls lived in FL for 2 years and LOVED IT! The distance from the family security net was fabulous. Having to rely on your own immediate family was something to experience. It has made our family closer and we rely on each other more. When we had to move back to UT, I was sad and not ready to. That's why we still gave ourselves about 1 hr distance from our relatives. It's nice to have them closer to visit when we want to, but not have to go to everything all the time. Enjoy Austin. Hope everything is going great for you and yours. Take care.

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