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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Dear Utah » Dear Utah

Dear Utah

Christian J - March 18, 2009

Dear Utah*,

You and I have had a rocky relationship. Its time we found some reconciliation.

As a child, you were all I knew. Our family didn’t have a lot of money, but I had no idea – partly because of you. My summers were spent riding my bike up and down your hills. In the winter we would go sledding in the powdery snow of the schoolyard. Every Monday night we would walk to Dan’s grocery store for 25-cent ice cream cones. My neighborhood was fairly close knit – I used to roam the streets without a trace of fear. Maybe it was the mountains that made me feel safe, I don’t know for sure. It was a good childhood – I don’t regret spending it with you.

When I left you for Virginia, I admit, I cried. But when we drove back to see you two years later, things weren’t the same – and never would be. In VA, things started out rough. No more Christmas-morning drives to my Grandparents in Idaho. We didn’t walk to church anymore and it took me a while to get used to the humidity. In 6th grade, I was the only one who had never sipped alcohol (allegedly) – including a fellow Mormon.

But things turned around quickly. During the holidays, we spent time with good friends. Being different in school started to have some benefits (comradery). And lets face it, green has always been a prettier color than brown. Over the years, my indifference toward you developed into outright anger. You turned out to be close-minded in a lot of ways – and you didn’t even know it! Soon I began to resent visiting you. We sacrificed a lot to visit you but you took it for granted. “I’M UTAH!” – you would say, having no idea that there was a whole world out there.

My feelings, I admit, turned into snobbery. I’d make jokes at your expense – I would mock your accent. I would clap triumphantly when my church leaders would deride you. It would seem to be some sort of a sick joke when I was called back to you for 2-years. That’s when things became complicated. I met some people that loved you and I learned to love them. I met some people who had nothing but you – and they were so proud. Unfortunately I met a bunch of other people too – and they freaked me out. They loved you too, but for the same reasons I used to hate you. Those old feelings started to come back to me.

Today we stand at a crossroads. I don’t want to go on avoiding you. Sure, I don’t ever want to be with you again – but I shouldn’t expect others to feel the same way. Many people love to be with you – and that’s great, even beautiful. You have so much to offer. You are truly one of the most unique places in the world. I don’t want to be ashamed that I knew you once – you’re part of who I am. Let’s celebrate our differences and admit that we’ve both come a long way. So, whattaya say? Can you forgive me?

Best,

CJ

* Could you forward this letter to your friend Southeastern Idaho? I wanted to send her a separate letter but, well, you all are pretty much the same place anyway. (sorry Dad)

16 Comments »

  1. Couldn’t have said it better (that’s if I’m REALLY honest with myself, which I choose not to be most all the time) Only problem is I’m with Utah. We’ve grown despondent towards each other till I move.

    Oh, and another great analogy for SE Idaho I heard was that it’s the Cultural Hall overflow section to Utah:)

    Comment by Bret — March 18, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

  2. See, and here I was, thinking SE Idaho was actually what people meant when they said “Utah Mormons!”
    Why?
    Because I grew up in SE Idaho (birth to 18 years) and then moved to Utah (now for 12…no, 11 years) and everytime I asked somebody to explain what “Utah Mormon” meant, I thought they were INSANE because they weren’t describing anything I knew about Utah –it was SE Idaho! Completely and thoroughly.

    So, I find the P.S. hilarious –but I’m very grateful for your apology, CJ. I have mixed feelings about the state, but I’ve realized, especially since living in CA for a year, that UT really is an amazing place to live and raise a family.

    Comment by cheryl — March 18, 2009 @ 6:09 pm

  3. Utah is my old teen-years girlfriend and all the sweetest memories that go with it. I loved it then and I love it now, but I also know the Utah I love doesn’t exist any longer, not exactly. Our secret trail up Big Cottonwood Canyon is now crowded with Birkenstock nerds. Pipes n’ Pizza and all the drive-ins have long ago closed. And no one cruises State Street anymore. But Gepetto’s and the Iceberg are still there, and you can still drive on Gravity Hill and talk about stuff. When I moved to Los Angeles (23 years ago this month) who knew I’d become so broken-hearted– or that I’d remain even still, trapped with a family who doesn’t want to go back? But then, do I want to go back? My girlfriend grew up, took a different direction, made her own life. And it appears I’ve made mine. I’ll never stop loving her, though.

    Comment by David T. — March 18, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

  4. CJ – For obvious reasons (at least obvious to you and I), I share your feelings about Utah and SE Idaho. And I have the same quandry when considering my time spent in both places.

    One experience I will always remember sounds like one of those “Utah Mormon” stories but it is true nevertheless. I was working temporarily in Los Angeles and staying in a hotel near Century City where my company’s office was. I decided to walk across the street the Alpha Beta store to by some snacks. While in the store I encountered several disgusting people including twin boys, about 10 years old, who were wrestling in the aisle and they bumped (no, crashed) into me. They didn’t apologize and their mother, a somewhat haggard looking woman, looked at me with a “What’s your problem?” look. I went to the dairy case and a customer and man filling the case (from behind) were arguing about the customer’s decision to take a carton of milk from the back instead of the front. “Well if you’d clean them off once in a while I would take the front one” said the customer and the argument continued. Once at the checkout stand the same haggard woman with the twin boys was arguing with the cashier about not getting her check approved before coming through the line. Just as I was about to drop my purchase and walk out of the store to get away from all this negativity, I turned around and standing behind me was an attractive looking young couple. I swear they almost had halos over their head they were so different than EVERYBODY in the store. Then I looked at the cap the fellow was wearing and it said “Utah.” And I knew. They told me they had moved from SLC just four weeks prior.

    Their really are some nice folks that live in Utah but my experience is like yours, they tend to think that Utah is the ONLY place in the world where life is enjoyable. It’s great that someone feels that strongly about where they live (Texans sort of feel the same way) but it is a pity that they refuse to consider that other places might equal their chosen home.

    Comment by lamonte — March 19, 2009 @ 4:46 am

  5. C.J., I like this.

    The thing that most endears Utah to me is the fact that my family and friends live there. But there’s other stuff, too. I love seeing families out and about. I like that, for the most part, strangers around town are pleasant and agreeable. It has so much that my current city life doesn’t, and it doesn’t have so much of what I hate about where I live now. So, even without my family there, Utah would hold some appeal to me. With my family there, it’s the best place on earth.

    On the down side, I know there is a certain ethnocentric and closed-minded mentality among some Utahns, but I wouldn’t paint the whole culture with that broad brush.

    The worst part of it is the inevitable (I think) polarization and tension that arises from friction between a dominant religious culture and an irreligious/differently religious minority. There are things both sides could do to ease tension, but I don’t think it can ever go away.

    Comment by Tom — March 19, 2009 @ 6:58 am

  6. Apology accepted. Thanks for caring enough to write.

    I’ll forward the letter to SE Idaho.

    See you next Christmas.

    -UT

    Comment by Utah — March 19, 2009 @ 8:21 am

  7. lamonte,

    Ya’ll can come down here any time you like!

    Comment by Texas — March 19, 2009 @ 9:54 am

  8. Texas – I’ve been. My first trip to Texas was at a business conference in May of 1989 and I spent (4) days in San Antonio and had the time of my life. Subsequent trips to Fort Worth and Austin, in the meantime, have convinced me that Texans aren’t arrogant – like I once thought them to be – they’re just so damn proud to be from Texas. I think that’s great.

    Comment by Lamonte — March 19, 2009 @ 10:25 am

  9. Whassup, fellow “raised in Utah and now living in Virginia” buddy? I feel about the same, although I can’t stand Virginia (lived in Chicago between Utah and Virginia, and liked it better there).

    Comment by Bro. Jones — March 19, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

  10. Bro. Jones: Thank you very kindly. Please be sure not to let the door hit you in the butt on you way back to that slut Chicago. Now get out.

    Comment by Virginia — March 19, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

  11. Dear Utah:

    Forget what CJ said, he’s just a playa. But check it: don’t hate the playa, hate the game. BTW, could I hang with you Dawg? Please? I don’t feel the love where I’m at in Idaho, you dig? If not, could you put in a good word for me with California? She’s so freakin’ hot, yo! Thanks, love ya man.

    -SV

    Comment by Sun Valley — March 19, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  12. CJ:

    I Just read your letter and you can kiss my southeastern a**. Oh, and, for the record: I never liked you.

    Comment by Idaho — March 19, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

  13. The problem is that Utah has been totally Californicated. And you can’t say she didn’t ask for it–you bet she did. Deserved every bit of it.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 19, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

  14. @10

    Here, here!!! :)

    I wax nostalgic about Utah whenever a BYU football game pans the mountain view from the stadium. It lasts roughly 3.6 seconds before I breathe a sigh of relief at being in the beautifully green, sane (comparatively) Old Dominion. A wonderful place where Chris Buttars is completely unknown and no one judges me based on the mutual religious affiliation he and I share.

    Comment by Proud Virginian — March 19, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

  15. #10 Virginia — Chicago loved me in ways you never could. I’m sorry. But when I’m stuck in traffic or suburban sprawl and my eyes are closed, I’m dreaming of wide highways and grid patterns and Italian beef and Midwestern hospitality. I know we have to stay together for the kids, but it’s a sacrifice, believe me.

    Comment by Bro. Jones — March 20, 2009 @ 8:24 am

  16. And so, as another pregnant pause gently descends upon the Everlasting Hills…

    Comment by David T. — March 26, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

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