Utah! You Too or You Boo?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fry sauce.
KSL radio.
Slurpees from The 'Sev.
My family.
Addresses based on a logical N-S-E-W grid pattern.
Picnics in Big Cottonwood canyon.

Oh, man, I'm missing Utah already! I just flew back to North Carolina from Salt Lake International yesterday after spending the past ten days in the Beehive state. Deseret. The 8-0-1. My home. The Normal Mormon Wife's younger sister got married in Utah last week so we split our time between my family in South Jordan and her family in Roosevelt. I didn't want it to end. Especially since my parents finished their basement with a state-of-the-art home theater, a pool table, foozball table, and have DirectTV. Oh, yeah, and I love them, too.

With the exception of one year in Idaho (Rick's College) and 2 years in Chile (LDS mission), I spent the first 26 years of my life in the shadows of the Oquirrh and Wasatch mountains. Every time I go home and take I-15 to 215, everything just feels natural. Over the past seven years I have lived in Arizona, Nevada and now beautiful North Carolina. Each of these places are special to me, but every time I go home it just confirms to me that I'm a Utah boy. Plain and simple. I spent my childhood wasting quarters at the 49th Street Galleria, eating Mushroom Things at Scott's, avoiding Magna water, and dodging semi-automatic weapons and knife fights at West Fest at Granger High. I guess Utah is permanently woven into my DNA. And I miss it!

There is a famous movie line about how there is no place quite like home. What movie was that from, again? I'm drawing a complete blank right now....I think it involves a dog, a witch, a twister...Oh, yeah, I just remembered. It's Happy Gilmore. You remember that scene of cinematic brilliance when Happy misses a putt and screams at his golf ball, "Why don't you just go home!? That's you're home! Are you too good for your home!? Answer me!!!!"

While the golf ball never answered Happy, I will. And I'm not only answering Happy, but also my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, in-laws, grandparents, nieces, nephews, friends, and people who want to recruit me into their Network Marketing organization who asked me the same questions about 459,872 times last week. I am pretty sure that my answer will generate some good comments from many of you because the "living in Utah" topic can get pretty passionate. My web counter allows me to track state-by-state where people live who visit my blog, and 25% of you live in Utah. The other 75% of you have most likely either lived in Utah, have family in Utah, or may end up living there one day. So, Happy (and everybody else), here is your answer.

Question: "Why don't you just go home!?"
Answer: "It's complicated."

Okay, that's a complete cop out, but it truly is complicated. First of all, the NMW and I are very, very happy in North Carolina. We have been here for five years and we love our friends, our ward, our house, the moderate temperature, and how old-school southerners begin their sentences with, "Well I'll tell you what...".

Second, my job is here and I have been given challenging opportunities and promotions by my employer that I did not expect to have this early in my career. The company I work for has treated me well and I would most likely have to leave my employer to get closer to home.

The third reason may sound kind of strange to some of you, but we really feel like the Lord guided us here and needs us here for a period of time. We needed to be here for our own personal development and we have been able to give meaningful service in the church. While it is true that we can grow and the Lord can put us to work anywhere we live, the NMW and I are pretty sure that this is the right place for us right now.

But the last reason is the most important of all - the Normal Mormon Wife does not want to live in Utah. Ever. She spent most of her life in Arizona and only lived in Utah during her college years, so it is not her home. Her reasons are very practical and I understand where she is coming from when we talk about it. We do not argue about it nor do we allow it to come between us, we just simply have differing points of view. The NMW wants to be closer to our families as badly as I do and would be perfectly happy living in Las Vegas, Albuquerque, or maybe somewhere warm in Arizona.

Just not Utah.

And she is not alone.

In my travels around the country I have spoken with hundreds of people who sit on opposite sides of the "living in Utah" fence. There are those who love Utah and will never leave. Many of them can trace their Utah ancestry back to the pioneers and have hundreds of extended family members scattered from Tremonton to Hurricane (pronounced "Hurr-ih-cun" for you out-of-staters.) They want to raise their families where the church is strong and their kid does not have to be the only member of the church in a 2,000-person high school. You know, like Chubbs being the only one-handed black golfer on the PGA Tour in Happy Gilmore. Others love the mountains, the seasons, going to BYU, U of U, and Jazz games, or hitting Chuck-a-Rama after General Priesthood Conference.

On the other hand, there are those who think that there are too many complacent "Utah Mormons" out there who take the church for granted. I hear the "Utah Mormon" reason all the time, and it completely puzzles me. There are good and not-so-good members of the church from Hurr-ih-cun to Hong Kong. Some parents want their child to be the only member of the church in his or her school so that he or she has to develop a strong testimony without simply relying on a strong group of LDS friends. These parents want their children to stand out from the crowd, like the unconventional Happy Gilmore on the PGA Tour, only in a more positive way. Others just simply hate the snow and could never be happy buried in the cold, wet, white stuff the entire winter.

The reasons for living or not living in Utah are endless. The feelings are usually passionate. I would love to move back. The NMW would not. In our own minds, we are both right. Please feel free to answer the poll questions and post some comments about where you stand on living, or not living, in Utah. In the meantime I will be sitting at home in North Carolina daydreaming about skiing at Yuba Lake.

And going to BYU campus.
And eating crispy bean burritos from Taco Time.
And seeing temples everywhere.
And the beauty of Bridal Vail Falls.
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47 comments

Jared said...

My family recently returned from a pilgrimage to Utah and felt the exact same way you do; we really miss it (my wife and I both attended BYU). I grew up in Arizona (i.e., "Utah 2.0") and my wife grew up in the "colonies" in southern Alberta, so we're both used to being surrounded by church members. We ended up on the east coast because of schooling but really want to move back to Utah after school is done.

We like being surrounded by mountains and Mormons. We also love BYU. As you said, there are "good" and "bad" Mormons everywhere; kids are smart, they can tell the difference between the good and bad kids (well, many kids are smart enough to tell the difference).

Some people argue that Utah Mormons (as a kid I did my fair share of making fun of Utah Mormons) are too insular and too shielded from reality. It's not true. Some are but many have served missions and actually seen the world.

We also want to move back to Utah because we love Utah scenery. There is no prettier place in this world than southern Utah (e.g., Zion National Park, Arches). We miss seasons and snow (not a lot of that in Florida).

Even as people who did not grow up in Utah we are definitely in the camp of wanting to move to Utah (i.e., "You Too").

8:27 PM
Anonymous said...

The only way I will live in Utah is if the Lord commands me, and for two years, that is what I had to do.

8:45 PM
Megan said...

I so miss the 49th Street Galleria! The first time I went on a ride like Star Tours (currently at Disneyland) was at the Galleria and I've been hooked ever since. Good times!

...

You could not pay me enough to live in Utah--and most jobs don't pay enough in Utah. My husband and I had a verbal pre-nup that we would NEVER raise children in Utah. However, we wouldn't mind retiring there as a chemistry professor at the Y and an alto member of the Mo Tabs.

Utah is a place of endless family (my parents are both Utards--er, I mean Utahns from SLC and Bountiful) and friends which is why we left our kids home this year and celebrated our 12th anniversary there. We threw ourselves a party and had everyone come to us. We had a grand time!

But, I really hate snow... and the blatant hypocrisy of many church members there. The only place I've ever wanted to go inactive from the church was in Utah. Even now I have close friends who live there telling me that they have to have certain decorations in their home or let neighborhood children wander through their yards at will or someone will judge you harshly or be offended. And I've also been told that remodeling your house is a must to "keep up with the Joneses". It's petty and I want no part of it.

So we'll just stick to our sunny corner of these grand states and play "The Mo" game at Disneyland. When we spot a large caucasian family/group dressed similarly (and probably coiffed similarly--especially adult sisters), we look for a) BYU apparel and/or b) garment lines. Anyone singing "Rise and Shout" as they pass you also qualifies. And, it happens frequently! :)

9:08 PM
Erika said...

I've become an avid reader of your blog, so I hope you don't mind me commenting. I used to have an extreme opinion on this topic...but it has mellowed as I have. I grew up outside Utah and most families that moved into the ward from Utah, were in my head, so hypocritical and stuck up. Then I went to school at BYU expecting great things, spiritual, personal, emotional etc. Like just being there surrounded by people that all "believed the same things i did" would somehow make everything perfect. That was a shocking experience in my life, let me tell ya! But throughout my Utah experience, I really learned most about myself and how I wanted to live the gospel. I always vowed that I would never raise kids in Utah. My reasoning being that it was/is much easier to tell my non LDS friends about what I do or don't do then stick up for what I believe against others who supposedly "believed the same things I do." I now live in Arizona but extremely close to St. George (30 miles) in fact we are there at least once a week to do our shopping. We did even live in St. George for a bit while working in AZ. Life is all about what you yourself make of it. Therefore my new position on the matter is, wherever the Lord takes us, we'll make the best of it, and enjoy it along the way. So props to you guys for being happy where you are!

9:42 PM
Anonymous said...

To the previous poster Megan- HYSterical what you said about 'the mo' game at Disneyland. I lived in Cali for 4 years and I tell you if you want to be in the company of half the "mo's" in Utah go to Disneyland during UEA weekend! Too funny! -
To the NMH - I was there with ya when we were dodging semi-automatic gunfire at West Fest! Thank goodness we all made it out alive! :) Ah, and the 49th Street Galleria -I went on many a minature golfing dates there. I went 'home' for two weeks the beginning of June and feel the same way you do driving down I-15 or good ole Bangerter Highway. And the N-S-E-W street pattern GENIUS! Oh how I miss it! -After living away from Utah for the last 11+years I totally get what people mean when they say "Utah Mormon" -I also completly understand why the Lord places us where we are. I never ever thought I'd live just outside of Washington DC or see such a diverse group of people in my ward on a Sunday morning but I'm glad to have had these experiences. So glad I found your blog. You are a great writer. Keep up the good work! -
Tara Seamons Huhmann

9:51 PM
Tom said...

If the Lord ever commanded me to move to Utah, I would do like it counsels in the scriptures. . . and wrestle with him!

I lived there for 5 years because the one place I hate more than Utah is Connecticut, and that is where I was living before moving to Utah. I lived there for 5 years, found a wife, finished school, and hopefully, have bidden my final good riddance to the state.

The major problem I have with Utah is very similar to the major problem I have with Texas...people that live there are sooooo stuck on their state. It's just a man made geographic boundary. There is nothing that special about you or your state. No one is missing out on anything by not having been there/done that/eaten there/cheered for that specific team/etc.

10:08 PM
Erika said...

I grew up in a military family and have lived all over the US. I lived in Utah for 6.5 years (the longest I've ever lived in one place) from my senior year of high school until my husband graduated from the Y. I love the memories there, but it's just not a very pretty place (well, except for Arches, where we honeymooned). We have moved to the northwest and we are here to stay. It is sooo much prettier! I do have family in Utah so we go to visit every year or so and I love visiting, but I wouldn't want to live there again. I love the opportunities to share the gospel out here and I like being "peculiar." I feel like there is more of a sense of having to pull together as a ward when you are outside of Utah.
In high school I especially noticed a difference in how people lived the gospel. At first it was very odd to meet a member who wasn't really devoted to the gospel. Outside of Utah the youth really made a point of making sure others got off work to go to youth activities whereas in Utah I was one of the only Laurels who even tried to make it to them! To youth it is so important to have the social support system-- even to those who have strong testimonies! So I can totally understand why someone wouldn't want to raise their children in Utah.
If I HAD to move back, I would. It wouldn't be too bad since I'd get to be close to my mom again!

11:59 PM
Heather said...

Well said NMH! I have absolutely NO desire to live in Utah (or Idaho, or California, or Arizona) No company could pay me enough (nor would they, because UT companies are cheap). Your opinion is well stated and I agree with your theory (just not the Utah part, in place of Utah, I think Texas)


I'm a Texas girl, living in Misery...I mean Missouri, longing to be back home with my family. And that's the crux, I want to be close to family. We have a lot of fun together and I'm not a fan of living so far away.

And by the by, Texas really is awesome. Until you've lived there, you can't really understand. I'm biased though, that's where my family is.

5:35 AM
Jon-Michael said...

This is a topic worth several posts. My first statement is this. I like visiting Utah. I live in Denver, so the drive is scenic, and we have a significant number of family members living out there. That being said, I don't think living there would be ideal for us. Denver is just better for my family.

There are plenty of good strong members of the church in Utah, but because the state is 70% LDS, there is always going to be a high number of people that don't take their faith seriously. It's the same in any other religion. Go outside of Utah and ask one of several million Catholics living in the US of A if you go to mass every Sunday. It's the same thing.

Most people I've known over the years who defend the Utah members of the church usually live there and never lived outside of the state, or haven't in a long time. Even as a missionary, you are around the church all the time, so people who use that to defend their stance don't know what it's like to live a normal, non-missionary life outside of Utah.

Here are some stories illustrating the "Utah Mormon" mentality. My mother 4 years ago traveled to Utah to see my sister, who was ready to give birth to her first child. She visited her ward in Spanish Fork (pronounced 'Fark' in the regional dialect). The lesson in Relief Society was about how our children should be allowed befriend their minority non-member classmates at school.

The lesson was absolutely going nowhere when my mother raised her hand and said, "If I didn't allow my children to befriend non-members, my children would not have any friends." The whole room went into an awkward silence for a moment, and then the teacher uncomfortably responded with a statement like, "that's so true," almost as if she had no idea what my Denverite mother was talking about, but trying to be polite at the same time. It was quite comical. My sister describes much better than I ever could.

Next story. My wife's paternal grandmother, bless her heart (nothing good has ever come after that statement) has lived in Utah her entire life. Both of my wife's parents were raised near Salt Lake (Bountiful) and are the only siblings on either side who currently live outside the state. Every time for years when they would visit, her grandmother would kindly guilt trip them for not moving back to Salt Lake to be among the Saints. It used to happen to just her parents, but even my wife and I have been recipients of these statements, as if we're purposely withholding our lives from her by choosing to live outside of Utah.

Okay one more story. My first Utah companion was a greenie from Utah (Bountiful again). He was a good kid and he grew a lot in the time we were together, but man he was naive at first! We went tracting his first couple of days in the neighborhoods of Southern California where we were, and had several people slam doors in our faces and tell us we weren't interested. After several hours of this, my companion declared with a very puzzled look on his face, "I though everyone would want to hear a message about Jesus Christ." It was a blow to his perception of the world. He also had never read the Book of Mormon by the time he entered the mission field too, nor could he tell me who Lehi and Nephi were, as I was teaching him how to teach the discussions (this was 10 years ago). It was an eye-opening experience for me. It was my first, "all of the rumors are true about Utah Mormons" moment in my life.

6:54 AM
Michelle said...

I lived in West Jordan from kindergarten through 10th grade, and I associate many fond memories with Utah (the 49th Street Galleria was the scene of many a roller-skating/bowling/miniature golfing birthday party). And I agree, there are good and bad members of the church anywhere you go. I have always been a little irritated by people who self-righteously judge "Utah Mormons" when they really have no idea what it is like to live there, or how the people are.

When I was fifteen I moved to Tucson, Arizona, where there were significantly less members, and I suddenly had peers asking me questions about my religion, which I was not used to. It was a growing experience for me. Instead of going to seminary in a building the size of a stake center and no one really knowing my name, I went to a smaller, close-knit seminary where I had instant best friends. Though I look back on my time in Utah happily, I enjoy living outside of Utah because of the experiences I've had that I never would have had there.

(My husband, however, who has never lived in Utah, would move there in a heart beat just for the easy access to Crown Burger. He's eaten there twice and is completely hooked.)

7:20 AM
Col.Smeag said...

I like Ercia was a military brat and lived in several places mostly Claifornia. Went on my mission to Mississippi and came home to Arizona. Lived in the Valley of the Sun for 12 years now we are in Thatcher were the next temple will be built. My wife has famly in Provo and went to the Y so I was able to actually ubderstand about half of the day-dreams you spoke about. However I have to admit that I could live there if I needed to. I find people in the Provo area atleast to be Unique and every conversation seems to involve the gospel. If you sa lets go to the Training Table for Fry sauce some how the 10,000 stipling warriors will come along too.

But here I am and will probaly stay in a transplant Utha town in Arizona. Not to bad here mild climate lots of rain ( rare for Arizona) and I'm my own boss ( except for the Mrs).

Just remeber if all goes well we will all end up in Jackson County ,Missour any way so don't put down any firm roots.

Heater seems to have a head start.

8:13 AM
Amy said...

I would go back to Utah in a heart beat if they offered a good job for my husband. Growing up in West Valley gave me plenty of diversity and also plenty of good strong LDS friends. Since moving to Colorado, I've become very exhausted and frustrated with how many people believe Utah Mormons are so sheltered and "untested" and really believe you can't have as strong of a testimony if you grow up there. Really? I am so shocked people seriously believe that and that many of my friends here in CO find it necessary to tell me about how the youth in UT don't have the same opportunities as the youth outside of Utah. You will find hypocritical Mormons wherever you live, and if you concentrate them into one area there will, of course, be more of them.

So far for me, growing up in Utah has brought a lot of missionary opportunities. When I'm on vacation or meet new people here and they ask where I'm from, answering "Utah" usually leads to them asking "so are you Mormon?" and it's a great way to start a conversation about the gospel or answer a few questions.

By the way, the N-S-E-W grid system needs to be adopted by every state!

8:26 AM
mama cow said...

I have the soulution to your problem! St. George!! I grew up in Glendale, Az I love and miss Phoenix and I swore I would NEVER live in Utah. Then I met my husband, a St George boy. We have lived in Phoenix and Prescott and Chandler but found our way back to St George. It has the perfect hot weather NO SNOW,Cafe Rio, Taco Time fireowrks twice in July, a temple nearby and tons of old people and college kids that cant drive. OK that last one is the only thing I dont like about living in St George and I guess if you dont want to be self employed or retire it is hard to have a good quality of life with a family. But this place is my home and I love it.

8:56 AM
Erin said...

I spent my growing up years in Logan, part of my marriage in Orem, and now after living in Iowa for a year, we're moving to Cedar City next week. When my husband told his group (he's a psychologist specializing in group therapy) that he was moving to southern Utah, one woman said, "Oh, good, you can go and fix all of those weird Mormons." Too bad she didn't realize he IS a "weird" Mormon that she has known and loved all year and didn't think he was weird. I'm happy about moving back to Utah, but not ecstatic. Well, okay, I'm ecstatic to be close to a Cafe Rio again. I've enjoyed everyone else's comments!

9:22 AM
Anonymous said...

Wow, everyone else's comments are hugely long!

I have lived in Utah for 7 years now - came here for school (BYU) then got married and never left. We have dreams of leaving but sadly we may have to be patient.

I think if you're into the "Utah Culture" then you love it, but I am so not, so I am inclined to dislike it: People asking if you can open work meetings with a prayer, the expectation that if you're not super-musical then you're not a good member of the church, thinking that one beer with the boys is OK. That sort of thing.

I loved my employment experiences in Texas. I was always, always treated with great respect. My employment in Utah has been Hell (pardon the word.). I think it's just the people. I won't go into the details, I never had any problems with the people I worked with until I came to Utah.

It's not just the "Utah Mormon" mentality, it's just the "Utahns." I have been allll over the world (I'd make a list but I don't want this comment to be longer) and I can tell you that Utahns are some of the most inconsiderate drivers. They are also selfish, backstabbing, and shallow. New York is worse, but that's not anything to be proud of. This is not to say every Utahn is a horrible person, but a lot of them are.

And then there's the matter of my cousins - of the cousins who were raised in Utah, most of them have either left the church or are indifferent towards it - Utah Mormon hypocrisy was a reason cited for their leaving.

If that's what you like, go ahead and live in Utah. Just don't try and - like my Aunt - try to convince me it's the Lord's favorite state.

10:18 AM
Gretchen said...

I LOVE BYU! Just not Utah.

For me, it's complicated too, but mostly I just think Utah lacks culture. I don't mean lots of singing and cheesy musicals and such - it might have too much of that. I mean restaurants and the real world and all. Anyway, I actually feel similarly repulsed by a lot of other states without coasts, so I'm pretty even handed with my dislike. Utah just doesn't come across as a place with many intelligent people. (I'm sure I've just made a lot of enemies with that statement.) It's beautiful there, but my husband and I would NEVER EVER fit in. The culture there is just not our style.

10:43 AM
Melinda said...

Hey! My high school graduation party was at the 49th Street Galleria! I haven't been back to the Galleria since then, but that sure was a fun party.

Thanks for noting that there are good and not-good Mormons everywhere. It bugs me when people judge my faithfulness based on my address. I tell them they are "address bigots" but my so-clever phrase that I coined just has not yet caught on. So I will leave it in a comment here.

My folks moved from Utah to the Midwest when I was in college, but my youngest siblings were still in grade school. After many years, my sister came back to live with me in Utah. She kept making disparaging comments about Utah Mormons. I finally told her that I was a Utah Mormon, and she was living in my house for free, and would she please be polite. She said I wasn't like other Utah Mormons, as if that was a compliment.

Funny how once someone gets to know you, they tell you that you're not like all those other Utah Mormons. Could it be that we're not all cookie cutter Mormons? And if you got to know any one of us more than just superficially, you would find that out? No, it must be that we're all exactly alike and you just happened to meet the one person who is completely different from your preconceived notions about Utah Mormons.

1:03 PM
Jeremy said...

I grew up in California and I currently live in Utah. I love California and will always have fond memories of that wonderful place. I really like living in Utah and have been here for about 4 years. I live here with my wife who is a Utahn, born and raised. You can not judge the state of Utah by a few people or stereotype everybody there. I am not trying to judge anyone, but there does seem to be a lot of judging going on which offends me a bit. There are a lot of Mormons in Utah and it seems that there is a greater number of “Jack” Mormons, but if you have a larger total population, you are going to find more that aren’t strong. There are members of the church all over the country and world that do not do what they should. Does that mean that that certain place is a bad place to live? No. I had Mormon friends in California that drank and had sex and so forth. My wife’s parents had 8 children (the youngest 19), and they are all active and strong in the church, as well as all of her 20 or so Utah raised cousins; however, she does have cousins raised in the South who are not active. You do not gain a testimony based on where you live, it is based on the work you put into it. You can find people all over that try to “keep up with the Jones’”, which is not just a Utah thing, but it happens all the time, everywhere. Utah is a great place and there are a lot of great people and things to do here. People from all over the country travel to Utah to attend BYU, Utah, Utah State, UVU and others, it’s not just Utahns in those student wards or towns. There are people from Utah that I can’t stand, but the same goes for people from other states. If you have a preconceived attitude about a place, you will not like it.

3:44 PM
mommymel said...

We also just returned from a Utah pilgrimage (to drop off a son at the MTC and visit ALL our family who live there). Utah just feels like home to me. But I grew up in DC and Europe. DH is the Provo boy. We just had the conversation about moving back and both say "not now." I tell family the only thing I don't like about living in SC is that the rest of the family lives in Utah. So my kids don't see their cousins but once every two years and Grandparents have to travel to see us more often. It is a bummer, but not a big enough one to make me want to move back.

We did live there the first 8 years of our marriage and built our dream house. I couldn't believe we were going to stay, and then we ended up doing the grand tour of the midwest for the past 12 years. I really believe the Lord led us to some great places in order to have us grow in ways we never could have in Utah. But I still miss the mountains, swiss days, some of the snow and the feel.

4:17 PM
Jewels said...

I did my time in Utah and I don't ever want to live there again. I don't long for anything but to see my friends. I hated the 6 month winters and 6 month summers of extreme heat. I hated the brown hills and the nasty air the oil refineries pumped out incessantly. My experience with the church in Utah isn't good (can you sake Stepford Wives?) And what's with all the freakin' plastic surgery? I've never seen so many fake boobs and collagen-filled lips in my life! For those of you who love Utah, more power to you. I'll just hang out up here in Seattle where the sky is much bluer, the lakes aren't man-made, the trees are evergreen and the air is clean.

4:28 PM
Angela said...

I love Utah, but honestly it's family that I want. If my family lived anywhere else, that's where I'd want to be. We live in Pleasant Grove now and I love having the huge mountains just right there, but it looks like we'll be moving back to West Valley because my husband got a way better job downtown. I'm a little nervous because compared to Utah Valley, Salt Lake Valley might as well be some ghetto. However, I'm so excited to be close to family again!
As far as raising kids in Utah, I think it depends on the kids. Some kids like to be different and thrive on it. Some however need support. My brother had a brief period of inactivity, not because he was rebellious but because none of his friends were members or if they were, they were inactive. Later he had one friend go on a mission (and one awesome sister-in-law) and that's all it took to get him back. Teenagers are strange creatures.

8:41 PM
Angela said...

Is it just me or do people who imply that Utah Mormons are self-righteous sound a little hypocritical?

8:54 PM
Mommom said...

There are those who struggle with the gosple all over the world. When I was younger I experienced some of the most devestating teasing from those in the church who really should have understood why I had the standards that I did. My children have had some similar experiences. And none of that was in Utah.

Having said that, because of the number of members and how the church has become a part of the culture I would find it difficult to live there. My expectations of others would be extremely high and I'm not sure that my testimony wouldn't be affected if they weren't met by my neighbor or coworker. It would be a tough to deal with that type of anger.

I would also say that I apply this to Arizona and Idaho as well - what I term the Mormon belt. While I realize AZ and ID don't have quite as many members as UT there can be a similar atmosphere. Those who live in the Mormon Belt experience challenges that are different than those who don't. There are blessings as well to each also. It's a matter of choosing which you'd rather have and what is more comfortable.

Me, I'll take East Coast. I'm really hoping the Lord always agrees.

6:25 AM
joyous said...

Plain and simple....I don't like snow. I don't think we'll ever move to a place that gets more than one inch of snow per year. We're just not big fans. I loved my 5 years in Provo at BYU and teaching at a local jr. high and I love to go back and visit, but it probably would take some spiritual revelation to get us to move back.

10:19 AM
Sandy said...

Utard was a great place for a college experience...but just for an experience. Neither Jake nor I have any desire to go back there for good (although we seem to end up back there a few times a year for various things). Unless he got hired as a BYU assistant football coach for a million dollars a year...it'd take about that much for us to move back. Its getting too crowded...people try to be too fancy...and I found myself sorely disappointed in a lot of behavior from people that I felt should know better. I grew up on the CA central coast, though, and those Wasatch mountains will NEVER measure up to the beach. Sorry.

11:10 AM
Melissa said...

Unfortunately, people who use and believe in the phrase "Utah Mormon" are becoming the exact thing that they purport to despise--judgemental narrow-minded people. It's a case of judging them before they judge us, or after they judge us, or whatever. Any stereotyping is not good and only creates a culture of intolerance and hate. All those who hate (or dislike) Utah and "Utah Mormons" might want to "pray for [their] enemies" so to speak, and then pray for themselves that they will be filled with charity so that they don't become "Utah Mormons" in reverse. It's like the rich judging the poor and the poor judging the rich. It doesn't matter which is which--everybody is judging, and that's the problem.

(By the way, isn't it "Bridal Veil Falls?" I always thought it resembled something a bride would wear as opposed to something a horse would wear).

11:14 AM
Pearlie Meg said...

Thank you to Melissa for the comment about "Bridal Veil Falls"! I was going to comment on it myself, and I specifically read through the posts to see if anybody else caught that. NMH, I love reading your posts, so don't think of me as an insane editor who doesn't let anything slide (although, i do have to be that way at work), but I just thought it was funny that you spelled it wrong after both "grammar" posts and then the post about how much you love Utah (which, in my weird head, makes me think you'd know how to spell "Bridal Veil" correctly). Not meaning to give offense, but I thought that was humorous.

As to the Utah/not-Utah debate, I suppose I am one of those few who aren't so passionate one way or the other. I grew up in beautiful Oregon, and it is honestly the first place I would want to live again, but I have spent the last six years in Utah (school and then work), and I don't particularly mind it, either. In fact, I love certain things about it. Go figure. Like every place (even my beloved home), it has its high and low points. I don't think I'll stay here forever, but I'm happy being here as long as I feel it's the right place for me to be.

However, let's face it: Utah is no Oregon (although it's extremely jealous that it's not).

11:56 AM
The Lovell's said...

I have to admit, I am pretty disappointed by some of the comments left about this post. Thanks Jeremy for what you had to say - I agree with you. Way, way too much judging and stereotyping going on. I guess my feelings are a little bruised because Utah is my home. I think it's a great place to live and raise a family.

Please don't judge me or where I live based upon your negative feelings of other "Mormons". People can be selfish, backstabbing, stuck up, and shallow. People. Not just Mormons, not just UTAHNS.

12:22 PM
Rebekah said...

We lived in Utah for 4 years. It's my husbands home and when he got out of the army we went back for school. For some reason the members of the church that we encountered there were not what I pictured at all. We were looked on as lesser individuals because we were poor college students. I have never felt so worthless in my life as I did the 4 years that we lived there.
I do love the state of Utah. It's beautiful and there are so many things to do (I do miss our yearly trips to BYU football games, temples all over the place and Cafe Rio....)but the people there made me never want to live there again. Visits are fine, but that is as far as I would like to take it.

3:51 PM
go boo boo said...

As a southern Cal on the beach native, it's always been tough for me to now live in the desert of Utah. After attending U of U, getting married, we couldn't leave Utah fast enough, then we shuttled around, back to the beach, to Arizona for grad school, then Oklahoma for internship and then Wyoming, and then we were almost begging to be back in Utah. We've lived in the big suburban house in Farmington, but I prefer our current "small" bungalow in the Eastern heart of SLC (read: close to everything!) and the diversity rocks, even for Utah standards it's pretty good. I have a much better attitude about the opportunities in the church this time around, and of course we love skiing/snowboarding in the winter, and mountain biking/hiking in the summer, so we take advantage of the gorgeous surroundings. That being said, I would move tomorrow if the opportunity came up. I would practically die to live back at the beach, but I would take another adventure as well (our next move will most likely be the mid-west, my husband's company's headquarters). I love that the comments are as long as your original diatribe.

8:16 PM
Jami said...

I liked Utah well enough. I do wonder if my BYU-stint really counts. My mission companion from Provo told me it didn't. Real Provo Young Adults apparently mocked us. Often.

My husband will not live in snow. I don't want to live in the Bible belt or in vile heat, so we'll probably stay in California. (It's nice when it's not on fire.)

12:23 AM
Carolyn said...

I know I'm joining the comments late here. I've only been to Utah one time and it was because of a family reunion. I thought it was pretty. I'm more used to being in the Mormon minority. Being in a place with so many Mormons and church buildings and temples just looked so WEIRD! Seeing all the Mormon billboards and ads on the radio just flipped me out. It was like some strange twilight zone place.
And that's all I have to say about that.

6:03 AM
Sarah said...

I have been a bit torn lately on the Utah, no utah thing. We used to live in Utah. In Murray. I love Murray, love it love it love it. We moved away to Missouri. To Clay County missouri. As in where Liberty Missouri is, next to Independence and a 10 minute drive to Jackson County. And it's HARD to live here some days. There are people who hate the mormons with a vengance and who probably protested when Missouri ended the extermination order, seriously. There are whole churches that do nothing but shout anti LDS garbage each and every Sunday for there meeting. And they probably have never even met a mormon, it's more conservative christian turned zealot thinking. I get nervous that people will realize my daughter is LDS in Elementary School and hurt her. And she's neive as most young children are and doesn't get that people hate her because of her religion.

Add to that our Ward is so dysfunctional. My husband served in YM for 9 months as the 1st councelor, and there was only him and the prez. And the prez rarely showed up to church??? Hello, would never happen in Utah. I begged the Bishop to release him, or release my husband because it was really affecting my husband. That didn't even sway his decision.
My daughter has been in sunbeams for 3 years, because they have to have the classes combined. And you know nursery does the same sunbeam lessons, so she's had sunbeam lessons for 5 years. There isn't much to sunbeam lessons. uggggg

On the other hand, DH was interview ing for a job in Provo. And although i'd love to move back to Utah, the thought of living in happy valley/utah county made me sick to my stomach.

My annoyance with some Utah mormons (and add ID to that too) is that some don't realize how offense there narrowmindness is to others. You have to still respect other people's religions and "some" just don't get it. AKA meridian magazine, sorry but I find it just offensive.

1:11 PM
Lindsay said...

It really troubles me--okay, ticks me off extremely--that there's all this fuss over Utah Mormons and non-Utah Mormons. My brother is on his mission in the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission, and there are members out there who won't even talk to him when they find out he's from Utah. It's the same gospel, people.

I think you have good wards, and you have no so great wards, and there are great members and no-so great members anywhere you go.

And, Utah rules because it's very difficult--although not impossible because I just found some at Nielsons Frozen Custard in Vegas--to get fry sauce anywhere else.

10:36 PM
Brooke said...

Just a quick post, I love Utah. Born and raised there I just recently moved to Texas. I miss the mountains, the restaurants, the lakes, the LDS churches on every corner, etc. However, I've come to realize that there are great people everywhere and the Church is true wherever you go! :)

9:29 PM
R&R said...

I know I'm late to the party, but I had to add my two cents.

First of all, Amen to the poster above me named Brooke. That's the best thing anyone here has posted, including myself. :)

I've lived all over Utah (Salt Lake and Utah Valleys) and all over Arizona (Greater Phoenix and Tucson areas). I'm only 29 but I've lived in over 12 wards in my life.

The two best wards I've ever been a part of were in Sahuarita, AZ and in Lehi, UT. And you know what? The only time I've ever hated my ward so much that I wanted to "quit" was in Tucson, AZ. The most apathetic, unmotivated and disjointed ward I've ever been in was in Tucson, AZ. The most disorganized Bishopric I've even dealt with was in Springville, UT. There is no rhyme or reason to any of it. You get all kinds no matter where you go. All that counts is where you feel at home, where you feel comfortable.

Kind of like with clothes. If you are a size 10 and you try to fit into a dresses that are, for example, either a size 4 or a size 16, they won't fit you right. You likely won't feel good in clothes like that. Does it mean that size 4 is wrong? Or that people who DO fit a size 4 are wrong?

I sorta think it just means YOU are wrong for a size 4. So don't wear it.

If you're not comfortable in Utah then... it's just not for you. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with the State itself.

A couple other things:

To jon-michael...

Some of the most clueless members of church that I have ever met are in my current ward. In Tucson Arizona. These are people who don't know squat. I would have loved to see how you have explained their stupidity if one of these folks had been a mission companion of yours. What excuse would you have given them? Since they aren't (and have never been) Utah Mormons?

And finally...

The worst comment I read on this article was about three down from the top by a girl named Megan. You are not a very nice person, from what I can tell. So that's why you didn't have a good time in Utah. I'm surprised you're having a good time anywhere. People as unkind as you usually don't fare well no matter where they go. And of course that's just my opinion.

Hey, you shared yours. I'm just sharing mine.

10:55 AM
Anonymous said...

I am from West Valley City, 30 years old, married for eight years and we have three children. I did my two years in Tokyo Japan and it just so happens that my wife is from Japan as well. I'm in the Army and have been for the past six years. When I'm not in Iraq or Afghanistan, which I happen to be in Kandahar at the moment, I call Tennessee home where I am with the 101st Airborne Division.

We lived in Utah for a few years before the Army and we both thought it was terrible. I love my family and she does also, but sometimes being that close is too much. Neither of us ever want to move back. We like to visit and that's all. We each have our own reasons, like I do agree about the difference in church members outside Utah. To me, there are a lot of people who take the church for granted and think they are the greatest thing since, for me powdered Gatorade.

I noticed people in Utah tend to judge a lot and if you don't measure up to what they think a fine upstanding member should be you aren't even worth speaking to at church. I used to dread Sunday because I would have to be around these people. Our ward in Clarksville is nice to wake up for and attend. I'm not sure if it's because the majority of us are military, but there is a much different feeling. Everybody says hello and knows you. I was hardly spoken to or even recognized in Utah. There were so many members in the ward there weren't enough jobs to go around.

My wife's reason was we were too close to my Mom and Dad. She loves them, but for somebody to get upset that you haven't visited in a week is ridiculous. Our living in Tennessee has actually worked out for the best for them. It has given them a place to get away to.

Going back to Utah on leave is nostalgic, but I would much rather deal with my green grass (which I don't have to water) trees, yes humidity and our small ward over Utah. I am proud to say I am from Utah, would rather stay away.

7:24 AM
meleofa said...

I came across your blog just yesterday. I found it on TwilightLexicon, strangely enough. But I think you are brilliant. :)

I live in Utah. I was born in Iceland, raised in Australia til I was 11, and then was brought here to Utah by my parents. I thought I hated Utah. So when my parents moved us away from here back to Iceland when I was 16, I was thoroughly surprised at how much I missed it. I moved back and forth between here and Iceland for a couple of years as a teenager. When the time came to leave my parents home, I chose to move back here. Why? At the time it seemed crazy. But I too believe that I go where the Lord wants me to go. I met my husband within 2 weeks of moving back here.

To me, Utah is home. The other places I've lived have been great. I want to go other places and see other things, but Utah will always be home. I don't mind the "Utah Mormons". I think we all mean well, and I agree that no one is perfect. And we are all, at one point or another, judgemental, hypocritical, and vain. Try as we might to avoid being such things.

I loved your comments on West Valley. We live in West Valley, and I have come to love it. Even though when I worked in Orem, everyone wondered if I got shot at everyday, and how I could stand living in such a scary place. hahahaha.

1:06 PM
The Peton's said...

I agree with you 100%!!! Grew up in WVC, family lives in Utah, moved to nw for grad school, and we're here to stay. I'm with you when I go back to visit, it's like I never left. Driving on 21st south and getting off on Bangerter Highway. Good times. When I moved to the NW, I found it shocking how strongly anti-utah some people are. But I'll tell you what, members here are just like in Utah, only there's more in Utah so you see it all. Like you said, with a sample size that large, you see it all. Go Utah!! As the state song says, "Utah, We Love Thee!"

12:42 PM
IamLoW said...

I am shocked to read that people think Utah lacks culture. I live in GA now, raised in SC, but I saw more cultural diversity in Utah than I did in all my growing up and I have been the racial and religious minority in places I have lived.

Utah is not all white and not all Mormon by any stretch of the imagination.

I reckon some people have blinders on?

6:53 PM
Mikelle said...

Hi NMH. You don't know me - I just lurked onto your blog from the Mormon Mommy Wars blog.

I can totally relate to what you're talking about. I was born and raised in Utah as well, and am now happily married, living in California. But I do miss my family in Utah and would love to be closer to them. I just love all your descriptions of Utah - you hit the nail on the head. And I too miss Crispy Bean Burritos from Taco Time. Thanks for the laughs!

6:54 PM
jeff said...

My wife and I just moved back to SLC after living for the last 11 years outside of Utah. (Overland Park, KS for 8 years and Boston for 3 years)

It is interesting to me that when we moved in, the first 3 people to come up and introduce themselves to me were all not members of the church. (maybe the member neighbors were worried that I would make them unload my moving truck) Each of them told me how great the neighborhood was, and how much fun it was, and friendly, and social, and so much to do etc. They all said they never wanted to leave.

I think you can be happy anywhere. Some places you just have to work a little harder at it.

8:16 AM
bon said...

Meh... it's all in the attitude.

That said, I would LOVE to get to a place that actually had more than one single week of my favorite season (fall) but right here in Spanish Fark is where we are planted, and frankly, I love the Ward here too much to ever celebrate leaving too much.

3:01 PM
Kirsten said...

hahaha. Soooooo true. It sounds exactly like my husband and I. I'm from Utah and like it there....though, now that I've lived on the East Coast and California I think SLC is the only place I could live...but my husband from DC won't even consider it. I want to be close to family so our kids can know their cousins well like I did, but he didn't grow up around family and thinks he turned out just fine, so he doesn't see the need for it.

He served his mission in Ogden and thinks that living in Utah for 2 years was enough.

8:35 AM
Anonymous said...

Complicated is right...

I miss Ice Berg shakes -- Utah really has the best ice cream anywhere.

Utah is NOT Texas... so you could be worse.

Utah girls are PRETTY.

I miss being a a block from the chapel.

I miss seeing one of the Brethren on a fairly regular basis.

I miss the Wasatch range.

I miss the Jordan River Temple. As huge as that building is, and as many people that use it on a daily basis, it always felt small, homey and peacefully reverent.

I liked the snow.

I loved my Ward. But then, I have loved every Ward I have been in since I joined the Church.

I don't miss the crime (I would say that about any big city though -- I live in a small town for a reason).

I don't miss Utah hunters. Utah deer don't wear orange, yet there are hunter deaths every year. Still can't figure that one out.

I don't miss UTAH drivers. I have driven in LA, San Diego, the Bay area, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Houston, Dallas... I feel I am qualified to say that Salt Lake County drivers are the worst. I'm not talking skills -- I am sure they are fine in that department. I have never been given the high sign so many time. I have never been yelled at so many times, cut off, run off... Now, lest anyone say that it must be me... I got along great in other cities that are much bigger with worse congestion. No one is more rude than a SLC driver.

I am perfectly fine with the Church NOT being on the front page all the time. I am also fine with local media outlets not taking upon themselves the mission of painting the Church in a bad light every chance they get.

I welcome political diversity. I thought I was fairly conservative politically until I moved to the Reddest of the Red States. Holy Cow!! I was positively libertarian by comparison to the average Utahn. Y'all verge on fascism.

I did get tired of being made fun of for where I am from.

I did get tired of the self-righteous BYU smugness (I'm sure it's a good school -- but it is NOT Stanford or Cal -- so drop it already), and the U of U compulsion with popping that bubble (it's like they have a napoleonic inferiority complex). You both lost multiple games to Boise State of all schools. How impressive can your football traditions really be?

I am not made for living in Utah... it is not home to me even though I was born in Logan. And the Utah-mormon phenomenon is hard to describe to someone from Utah. But stereotypes often have their basis in fact.

So be a homer (you'd be lame if you weren't)... I still get to laugh at you.

11:51 AM
pseudotsuga said...

I'm a Forest Service brat--raised in various small towns in Northern California (the Bay Area is *Central* cali, by the way), southern Oregon and western Montana. My parents joined the church in the mid 1960s when I was an infant, so we never knew the "Utah church" phenomenon.
I didn't really know that being "Mormon" was different until Jr. High school. The kids I made friends with were not LDS, but they were good, spiritually minded kids who had the same values I did. Some of the LDS kids I had to deal with as a youth were real jerks. Others were good people. I struggled (as most teens do) with identity, trying to figure out where I fit in (but I didn't go through a rebellious stage like a couple of my siblings did). I felt like I didn't fit in with my peers, neither at church nor at school.
After high school I went off to BYU, in 1983, where for the first time in my life I found people who I did fit in with, both as peers and LDS members. I suppose my expectations weren't unrealistic, since I had already known LDS peers both good and bad.
I spent 10 years in Utah Valley completing a BA and an MA (excluding 2 years for mission). It was very good for me.

So...Utah--me too or me boo? When we discuss places, we usually consider a few variables; climate, geography, and people.

What did I like about Utah geography? There is some beauty in the state, but I really don't care for the stark beauty of extensive high desert. The Wasatch and Uintah mountains are gorgeous--yet they are only a very narrow strip. The Utah National Parks have nice scenery, but since they are only a fleeting experience, they don't really count. The high desert geography is a mixed bag for me.

The climate? I don't much care for the long, dry summers. The winters I can handle, since I grew up in snow country. Those winter inversions are nasty, though. Utah in the spring and fall (which are best experienced in the mountains) is VERY pretty.

The people are also a mixed bag--I met many great people in Utah, some from Utah, some not. There was a myopic view of many "cultural" LDS, though--they seemed to feel that the church only worked a certain way, which didn't really apply much outside of the member density of Utah and Idaho. Some of the programs of the church seem to work fine if your ward takes up 4 square blocks, with a solid, steady pool of people to draw on, but they are very difficult to implement outside of that. I've been struggling with that for decades.

But anyway--when I left Utah after finally graduating and then getting married, I was teary-eyed, not because of the state, but because of the experiences I had had there.

Would I move back? Possibly--if I could get a job there. In my field, it's not likely. Am I actively trying to move back there? Not really. I don't miss the heat, the desert, and the narrow strips of forest (rather than the extensive forests of the Cascade and Coast ranges of Oregon and Washington). I don't mind the people--even Seattlites (not to mention Koreans, Newfoundlanders and Oregonians) can be as stereotypically provincial and myopic as Wasatch Front Mormons.

10:40 AM
Anonymous said...

I knew I wasn't the only one who loved the crispy burritos from taco time. I love to read your blog, brings back so many childhood memories!!

4:17 PM