Village Baker. Brick Oven. BYU Creamery. Proximity to mountains, BYU, seven temples no more than an hour away, Temple Square, Salt Lake Cemetery. Sunrise over the mountains. Sunset over the mountains. Dry air.
These are all things I miss about Utah. Sure, I didn't go to some of those places on a regular basis, but knowing I could anytime I wanted to was nice. I miss seeing BYU shirts and flags and license plates. I miss the springtime in Utah, when everything is in bloom and the mountains are starting to green up. I know I will miss the summer--hot, dry days interspersed with thunderstorms and cool, dry nights.
I also really miss the small town feel that pretty much all of Utah, even Salt Lake City, has. I miss watching the local news of Utah because you realize how much sense of community is in Utah by watching the news. Here, the area is so huge and the news broadcast covers so much that things that would be big news in Utah, with people reaching out and comforting are glazed over as if they are nothing here.
And the weather! Utah weather can be pretty crazy in the spring time, flipping back and forth between 80 degree days and 20 degree days, sometimes with snow, sometimes with thunderstorms, and almost always windy. But you never had to worry much about things like golfball sized hail and what to do with your car that day because you can't park it in the garage.
I also miss certain friends. People who were real friends that don't come along all that often. I can think of four people who really fit this bill there in Utah. I don't really know how to make friends like that; they just happen. So far, nothing yet, nothing even promising. People here are really nice. They are very welcoming. But nice people aren't the same as true friends. The saddest thing, which has always happened when I've moved in my life, is that it's hard to maintain those friendships. I think it's harder now with social media. Before social media, you had to make an effort. Now, you just follow their profile and there is no need for letters. But there is no depth either, not without a lot more effort.
Right now, I can't find anything better about living here than about living in Utah. It hasn't been bad, but it hasn't been anything to rave about.
I worry constantly that my kids are missing opportunities. Money went a lot further in Utah. I find that ironic in a way because a lot of people here talk about how cheap it is to live here, even the others who moved from Utah. I don't know how that is possible. With property taxes so high, we had to buy a lot less house to afford monthly payments. Kids' activities are really expensive and cost much more than in Utah. And the expectation here is that if they don't start by age four, then you might as well not put them in because they will be way too far behind their peers.
The culture is different. All day kindergarten for all and the attempt to force mandatory pre-K on all too. I wanted to teach a preschool out of my home, but I was thinking of doing something that is three hours a day, three days a week for 4-year-olds and two-and-a-half hours a day, two days a week for 3-year-olds. But here, the expectation is that preschool will be at least five hours and at least three days a week, which includes lunch. I can't even fathom what you do with 3-year-olds for five hours in a "class". These cultural differences bother me a lot and I don't really know what to do about them. If I stick to my guns, my kids will be ostracized and so will I, but I really can't get behind putting kids in sports at age four and all day preschool that young either.
I am just having a hard time living in a place that demands my kids go to all day kindergarten and mostly all day preschool, play sports as young as four, and requires that I pay to volunteer, both at school and through church.
So I will have to be content with finding joy in the really small things...like using two ovens to cook with at the same time, like my son having the great same band director my brothers had, like so far, I don't have to go to work to help earn the income and we're managing things, even though it's stressful. I am able to still do my sewing and grateful that, despite having been told otherwise before we moved, I'm able to find sewing materials at my favorite place to shop for them--Walmart. I'm grateful that so far, we haven't had much of a pest problem in our house. Okay, birds in the chimney and rabbits in the backyard and a spider here and there inside, but otherwise, no roaches or ants in the house yet.
I do love living so close to family. Five minutes away is the closest I've ever lived as an adult to family. When we lived in Arizona, my parents were a 45-minute drive away. In Utah, my brother(s) in Provo were forty minutes away and the one in Sandy was twenty minutes. We live close enough that if we are all still here in ten to fifteen years and everyone still has kids in public school, they will attend the same high school. That's pretty fun.
It's also fun seeing familiar faces from my youth. This Saturday is a celebration of my old elementary school's fifty year anniversary and if I go, I'm sure I will see a few faces I recognize.
I will try to keep looking for the good things. That's about all I can do.