Wednesday, July 2, 2008

SO Utah

You would think that after years of living out of state and then returning to Utah, I would cease to be surprised by all the Utah nuances, and even after having been here just a month ago, I was surprised how much I still am surprised by the way things are here. Now let me clarify, this is in no way bashing Utah. I know plenty of people do that. "That's so Utah, blah, blah, blah." And strangely, they are usually people who have chosen to move here. To whom I say: Then leave! We don't need you here.

Let me start by saying how much I love this place. I was so happy when a few months ago in Wisconsin I went to the orthopedic doctor who did my injections. The first time I met with him he asked where I was from. When I said Utah, his response was, "Wow. That place is amazing. It's really God's country out there, isn't it." That's exactly how I feel. The first day I was back here we were driving up I-80 towards the mountains and it was just so beautiful that I kept thinking of that phrase, and of course the U2 song with the same lyrics. If you've never been here, you must come. I love that you can be snowboarding one weekend and then down in warm red-rock Moab the next weekend. That was how I spent my free time in college (and probably why Ryan and I came to be. Well, that and just "happening" to have dinner ready inside when we walked home after class.)

For some reason though I am always struck by how bold everything seems here - the colors, the contrast, the blues and greens, snow-capped mountains against a clear blue sky. I think part of it is that other places I've lived are more humid in the summer, so it's a little hazier or something (I know Utah get's the nasty inversions in the winter, but I'm talking summer here). It's probably also that you don't have such beautiful backdrops other places, and if they do have nice scenery it's less visible because they're more flat. Well, beautiful minus billboard mania.

But it is striking how everything is just so nice here. The yards are all large, perfectly manicured, and for being in the desert, they're sure greener than anywhere else I've lived. Maybe it's the grid setup - everything seems somehow neater, crisper, nicer. Houses are newer. Even the Wal-Mart here looks like Saks Fifth Avenue compared to where I just came from. And holy cow, I just found out you can get PEDICURES in the Centerville Wal-Mart. I'm gonna bet there's probably a lot fewer drug deals going down in the parking lot here than the ghetto one next to our house in Milwaukee.

I was just out on 123rd South the other day and I just can't believe how every store you could ever imagine is out there. Strip-mall heaven. Spas galore. Every chain restaraunt ever invented. I'm not saying it's good or bad, just that every convenience you could ever want is always much more accessible in Utah. With large and free parking lots. You don't appreciate that until you live somewhere where you have to pay to park at Target.

Now of course, no discourse on Utah would be complete without a mention of style and fashion. (Oh I looked sooooo Utah when I went to Miami, but that's another post). There sure are a lot of those stacked A-line bobs and those teased ponytails that boof up in the back. I don't even know how to make my hair do that if I wanted to. I got my hair done here and I didn't realize until I was finished that I felt very Utah-ified - blond and flat-ironed.

Which brings me to another point - the number of blondes here. Holy toledo. I just sit in church and count the number of highlighted heads. (Me included, of course.) Did anyone see that snippit from the season finale of American Idol where they showed David Archuletta's home crowd? Pretty much a large sea of blondes....

And of course no place is better ta hear some Utah slang than a' the beau-y salon.

Although really, people here seem to be better at doing their own hair than other places. Granted, sometimes that means a little too much, hair and makeup both, especially compared to other places I've lived, but I guess that's why there's so many attractive people here. I remember being on my mission in South Africa and having African men propose to me all the time and tell me how beautiful I was or that I looked like Britney Spears (er, it was a compliment back then). Anyway, awesome confidence builder until I get back to BYU and realize, dang, everyone looks like me.

It seems like most people either love or hate their hair here. I love it because mine stays flatter, but Cash has no curl here, which I miss.

I've also always loved the dryness and lack of humidity here, and I can't believe it's come to this, but it's even a little too dry for me now. Like I feel like this climate is going to age me 5 years in the month I'm here.

I'm also amazed at the number of people who are always out running or walking. I seriously drive around going, wow, another one? Maybe I just got used to the notoriously getting fatter state of Wisconsin. Guess there's a reason.

It's also funny how anywhere else you live people are always commenting on your kids, even when I had just one. But in Utah kids are a dime a dozen so no one could care less.

And of course, I have to re-mention the aforementioned mass booger production. Seriously. And now I have three more little sets of nostrils from which to dislodge such mass booger production.

Oh yeah, and getting hit on. Have to say that makes me feel good because it's been a while since that's happened (well, I guess there were a few Mexicans at our local Wal-Mart in Milwaukee, but seriously, language barrier - doesn't count). It only seems to happen here when I'm driving in the car, but anyone who's lived here knows that everyone even somewhat single here is always on the prowl.

Well, anyway, I could go on and on about all the Utah-isms. I'm sure I've forgotten a lot, but it sure strikes me every time I come home that literally, there's no place like home.


Cafe Johnsonia said...

(wiping away tears...)

For all of those reasons I am SOOOO excited to move back. I used to be one of those people who was embarrassed about all of those cliche Utah things. No longer! I'm ready to rejoin the ranks! Boogers and all!

Safire said...

Awww...I used to live on 123rd when there was still HUGE open fields and a dairy farm. Progress is good, but I miss the small town rural feel Draper had.

For all of your reasons, I miss Utah but really wouldn't want to move back.

Laurie Jones said...

Totally agree! And now I am back here and sporting the blond flat-ironed hair with three kids at my feet, getting hit on in the local Walmart. What more could we ask for?

Anonymous said...

It used to always be SUCH fun to go places with Jen and have heads turn everywhere we walked. That must have been in Utah, right? I have missed those days.

Affectionately, your mother,

Gavin and Shawna McEwan said...

I am called to repentence for ragging on Utards (sorry, it just happens!)...but really, some of our best friends come from there. So its got to have its perks. I can't say that I have personally experienced a lot of the Utah greatness...but I trust it exists.
And compared to truly might seem like heaven.

Jenilee said...

Oh, how I would love to go back home. It has been to long. What a great state.

Katie said...

It's fun having you here this summer! PS my mom and Laura Annen have both requested to be added to the blog. Does it have to be a gmail account? email me at and let me know what they need to do. You have cute boys!

Tania said...

Centerville, Wal-Mart .... Where are you? We'll be in Farmington in a week. I'd love to see you guys & meet the twins.

Now you've got me worried that Jane's curls will vanish in Utah - I am so in love with them. My hair gets way better there though.

We are always amazed at how clean, neat, orderly and did I mention CLEAN everything is there too - oh, and how white all the people are.

Shannon said...

I never thought this would be my home. I have grown to love Utah. Q-tips work great to get the boogs out of yer younguns noses.

Shannon said...

I never thought this would be my home. I have grown to love Utah. Q-tips work great to get the boogs out of yer younguns noses.

nyclizzie said...

Jen, you're a GREAT witty, fascinating, hilarious writer! Do you remember me from our few "hair" encounters in NY? I wish you still lived here! ;-)

Anyway, just wanted to mention that I enjoy your blog and that I have found other friends that enjoy it too so you have quite a following now! (friends from three different realms of life--small world!!!)

Keep's so therapeutic, isn't it?!!!

H. said...

Okay, so if you are getting hit on, you must be looking pretty good after having 3 little ones!

Lu Lu said...

Utah is the ultimate Suburbia. No doubt. I too would love to live there again. No where beats it. Denver thinks they are a great mountain city...anyone who thinks that hasn't been to Utah! I totally agree...those Utah comments....especially "Utards" are really old. Is that person who said "Utard" from the midwest? Missouri? Serious Utah knocking (seemed like competition for Zion) there. Worst I've heard. But why didn't I develop the skill to do my hair and why am I too cheap for highlights?

Julie said...

Okay, so I stalk your blog. You are so funny! I moved from Utah to Ann Arbor. It's the same to me. I have 3 kids under 4. It totally makes me feel good when I go to the grocery store (alone) and someone asks what I'm studying at school! But when I'm with them all people just stare, or say how crazy I am. Anyway, I just wanted to say you are NOT alone! And as far as the humidity hair, it gets used to it. I Promise!! :) Good luck!