Utah is my homeland. It is where my grandparents and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins live. It is where I learned to ride a bicycle, play soccer, how to read, and become a decent human being. I will always love Utah and the person it has allowed me to become, but after living 6 years in Kentucky, returning to Utah feels like visiting a foreign country. I shall attempt to explain this by describing mine and Keith’s weeklong trip to Utah this summer.
Probably the number 1 hardest thing about visiting relatives in Utah is the lack of coffee and whole milk. Seriously, we’ve been to five different houses and every single one of them had only 1% milk on no coffee makers! Keith and I drink whole milk and coffee almost religiously so this took some adjusting. We got by with Dr. Peppers and Coke Zeros until my Grandma Ann (who doesn’t drink coffee, but took pity on us) came to the rescue and took us Island market where we purchased some much needed instant coffee and hot cocoa to survive the remainder of our trip.
Despite their lack of coffee and horrible taste in milk our hosts in Utah took very good care of us. We ate like kings the entire trip. Everything in Utah seems to be homemade. We had homemade sushi, homemade hummus, homemade raspberry jam, homemade guacamole, homemade oatmeal pancakes, homemade chocolate chip cookies, homemade everything! It was delicious! The people of Utah know how to eat right!
When coming to Utah it really helps to know the Mormon language. As someone who grew up as a Mormon you’d think it would be easy for me, but once you start talking a certain way it’s hard to go back. Apparently I’ve developed a bit of a Kentucky accent as my Aunt Catherine likes to point out whenever we see her. I also have a difficult time not swearing. I don’t swear a ton, but Mormons don’t swear at all! They especially don’t like it when people say, “Oh my God!” They call it taking the Lord’s name in vain. I let this slip a few times, and while I was never confronted I felt the discomfort.
When you talk movies, and TV shows with Mormons this generally means you have to keep the conversation at a PG-13 level. They don’t watch HBO, and they don’t watch R-rated movies. When asked what my favorite movies are, and I list off Pulp Fiction, Little Miss Sunshine, Away We Go, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, they have no idea what I’m talking about. When asked about my favorite TV shows I am careful to say that I like Seinfeld, Firefly, and Freaks and Geeks excluding my other favorites like Game of Thrones, The Wire, Breaking Bad, and The Sopranos. There are exceptions. I was delighted to learn that my cousin Ashley and her husband have watched Breaking Bad and have watched several R-rated movies including one of my favorites from last year American Hustle. Thank goodness! It’s so nice to not put a filter on these conversations. It shouldn’t be such a big deal to me, but it is. Movie and TV show talk is the one things I’m good at. It’s so frustrating not being able to show off my expertise!
Sundays in Utah are the worst. The family members wake up and get ready for church while Keith and I bum around the entire morning in our pajamas. This last Sunday was fast Sunday which means that Mormons forgo breakfast and lunch and don’t eat until dinner. While the rest of the family starved themselves Keith and I sheepishly ate the boxes of cold cereal left out for us on the kitchen table.
As Keith’s 12 year old cousin Landon straightened up his tie for church he looked at me in my tank top and pajama bottoms and asked, “Aren’t you guys going to church?”
I said, “No. We’re just going to stay here.”
Landon being the inquisitive boy that he is asked, “How come?”
I hesitated for a moment before answering, “Because we don’t believe in the same things you do.”
To my relief Landon was satisfied with this and asked no further questions.
I love my family. They have shown nothing but love, kindness, and acceptance for who I am. The same goes for Keith’s family as well. Just because we have cultural and religious differences does not mean we cannot find common ground. It’s easy to pick at all the petty little differences, but life is a lot more fun when you can just let them go and just enjoy each other’s company. Keith and I are lucky to have such wonderful families on both sides and we had a fantastic time with both of them this week. I look forward to visiting them again next year!