I’ve kept this “secret” for a while and by “secret” I mean I’ve been talking about it for months: I’m moving to Salt Lake on July 28th.
Yes… Goodbye Phoenix, Hello Salt Lake.
Deep down, I knew I wasn’t going to be in Phoenix forever but I didn’t think I’d move quite so soon. I am sad to leave because the desert was my first true love and I’ll miss it, but a new chapter of life is about to begin. I will be starting grad school at the University of Utah, working on a Masters in History. Plus there is a more powerful reason- I’m madly in love and he lives in Salt Lake. I’m moving to begin a life with him. Love makes us do crazy things I guess.
Moving back to Utah is almost like a homecoming. Almost.
I was born in Provo, Utah. The family lines for both of my parents have roots in Utah dating back to the 1870s when our ancestors joined the Mormon Church and emigrated to Zion. I lived in Utah until I was nearly 9 years old (I don’t consider it the place where I did my ”growing up”) but Utah has been the one and only constant in my life. I’ve been in Utah for one reason or another every single year of my life since moving away. Growing up in Southern California and Arizona, I often shied away from telling anyone where I was born because it was always followed by the accusatory statement, “So you’re a Mormon.” It wasn’t until after I came out as gay that I was able to fully come out as a Mormon. I now embrace both of these aspects as integral and important to who I am. I consider both to be a blessing.
Now it’s 22 years later and I’m going back to the Motherland where I fit right in. Salt Lake and Utah County (shudder) are not unfamiliar to me.
I left Utah as a boy, a newly baptized, believing member of the Mormon Church. I’m going back as an out and proud gay man, a non-believing Mormon who has had his name removed from the records of the Church. Decisions made by straight, white, elderly men in Salt Lake were the catalyst for my activism that began in 2008. Salt Lake is now the epicenter where two of my main interests (Mormonism and LGBT rights) intersect. I’m already cooking up some projects in my head that will most likely come to fruition in Salt Lake.
Salt Lake and Phoenix are both in the category of places people think are not that cool but are actually pretty damn cool. In places where political oppression and fear dominate, the counterculture and underground thrives. I’m looking forward to exploring it and being involved in all things related to Downtown Salt Lake the way I have been in Downtown Phoenix.
On Friday I went to my last First Friday. I’ve been going to First Friday downtown since 2007 (before light rail when it was a total pain to drive) and oh my how First Friday has grown! I walked east along Roosevelt Row through crowded streets full of people. People people people! Everywhere crowds and music and food and art and noise and people walking around Downtown Phoenix. It felt like Downtown put on her best face for me Friday night. I stopped into the Nash, the new jazz performance space downtown, I went to the Bodega, and to my delight I passed by the new park next to Carly’s where there were people sitting in the grass, throwing frisbees, exploring the new art installation, and listening to music. I bumped into friends on the street and I thought, “I’m going to miss this.” Phoenix has been good to me.
To quote Dr. Suess, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
I’m smiling a lot.