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?
* 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)