Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mom goes to Utah.

Long ago, I lived in Utah while I attended school at Brigham Young University. That's where I got the broadcast journalism degree that allowed me to later become Mom, the (News) Intern.

While I lived in Utah, I despised about 80 percent of it. I hated the winters. The unapologetically careless drivers. The potholes all over the roads and the trench-like gutters that line the streets of Provo. I-15. The nasty industrial areas that are completely unhidden and provide a ghastly contrast from the beautiful mountain scenery that surrounds them. The plastic Barbie doll culture. The abysmal customer service at any and every restaurant.

I did enjoy MOST aspects of BYU, and the summers in Utah were glorious. But when my time came to be done, I was outta there in a hurry. I missed Arizona something fierce and didn't even care that it is literally Hell on Earth from mid-May to late-September every year. That's why air conditioning was invented, people. And tell me, have you ever had to scrape sunshine off your windshield?

I stayed far away and hadn't been back since the year I graduated, which was 2009. And then, I finally had cause to return last month. It was for a concert tour and album recording with Millennial Choirs and Orchestras, of which I am a part and have been for six years. We performed in several concerts at the Mormon Tabernacle and recorded an upcoming album at the University of Utah.

Those experiences alone were incredible. But just getting away from here, by myself, was something I needed. I just didn't know it.

I flew into Salt Lake on a Tuesday and didn't have any choir commitments until the following day, so I was free to do whatever I wanted. This was also the first time I had ever rented a car for myself. I was so nervous about it, but of course it was totally fine. I ended up loving that little Chevy Sonic with its fancy back-up camera and screen that told me the artist and title of every song played on the radio. And I loved the freedom having a car provided me.

As I pulled away from the airport and headed downtown where my Airbnb was located, I actually started to tear up. I was in Utah again! And I was glad about it! The weather was great, the scenery is just breathtaking (there was even still snow on the mountains! In June!) and the happy memories flooded back. See, when you've been away from something for a while, you tend to forget the bad and remember the good. Thanks, Brain, for that helpful evolution. Were it not so, the human race would cease to exist because CHILDBIRTH.

I arrived at my Airbnb a few hours before check-in, so I decided to hit up City Creek. What a lovely mall! It felt a bit too fancy for me, but it was a nice place to hang out and also very close to where I stayed. I liked that it had an actual creek running through it. For lunch, I ate at the small Red Iguana in the food court there because I was starving by that point. It was actually pretty decent! I called Dillon while I ate and remarked how every person I saw looked like someone I know. I guess we Mormons tend to resemble each other.

After that, I shopped a little, and then made my way to my place. It was right in the Avenues just off of South Temple. I had never stayed in an Airbnb before and didn't know what to expect. It turned out to be a really positive experience and I would definitely do it again!

When I walked in, I was greeted by original hardwood floors, a beautiful fireplace and mantle and lovely white built-ins and moulding. The bedroom was comfy and inviting with curious little furniture pieces. The kitchen was quaint but stocked with all the necessities. It was SO CUTE and looked exactly like the pictures in the listing. Behold:

I looked forward to coming back to this place at the end of each tiring day. It felt like a little sanctuary where I could be alone with my thoughts (I know that sounds scary but trust me, I needed it) and just unwind without the needs of others weighing on my mind.

My sister Mariah lives in Provo so I also got to visit with her on several occasions. We did have our mandatory sushi date at Tsunami and it was SO GOOD. You guys weren't kidding!

sushi, Salt Lake City

We also went to Music and the Spoken Word on Sunday morning, and then Mariah showed me around BYU later that day. It's changed so much since I was last there. It's beautiful!


That last picture is the brand new Life Sciences Building on the south end of campus. The coolest thing about it was how they used a ton of living plants and taxidermy to decorate it inside. It felt so swanky and it made me want to go back to school and study biology or something.

Singing in the 150-year-old Tabernacle was an incredibly moving experience. Those Mormon pioneers built it with their bare hands. The pipe organ was magnificent. I can honestly say performing with so many accomplished musicians and beautiful human beings on those hallowed grounds was a spiritual highlight in my life. I wished my mom could've been there in person, but I have no doubt she was there in spirit.

temple square
The whole MCO crew packed into the Assembly Hall. Photo c/o Steve Porter

Libby Gardner Hall was an absolute joy to record our album in! The pipe organ was beautiful to behold, which is good because I got to stare at it for about five hours. I'm definitely a Cougar for Life, but hanging out at the U wasn't all that bad (though I was concerned about bursting into flames while walking around on campus, and y'all got some scary-steep hills).

I had the chance to visit the Salt Lake temple during some of my free time and I also got to see the new Provo City Center temple! Wow. I remember when it was just a wee tabernacle. We used to have church meetings there, and I even performed there as a BYU student. Amazing that they were able to restore it to a temple after it burned down. It is truly magnificent!

Provo City Center Temple, Salt Lake Temple

I ended up dining at some of the places that were recommended to me by everyone -- THANK YOU! -- but I didn't get to try them all, unfortunately. Sometimes, I only had a minute, or I was in a different part of town, or it was more convenient to eat somewhere else than travel around. However, I got to try some really yummy food at some unique places, and it was a ton of fun!

L to R: Rockwell's Ice Cream (Provo), Sodalicious (Provo), Cafe on 1st (SLC)

L to R: Pig and a Jelly Jar (SLC), The Pie (University of Utah, SLC)

Going on this trip ALONE was something I desperately needed. There were a few times I wished I had Dillon, my kids or a close friend with which to eat a meal, go to the temple or just hang out. I did meet up with several people as I had the time, which was a lot of fun. But for the most part, I was by myself. And I needed it, especially when I became vocally fatigued and had to rest my voice. It was really healing to just think and process things, too. Plus, I only had to worry about myself, which is unusual. I am always thinking about my family, my kids and others and my own needs tend to slip by the wayside.

The best thing I could have done at this particular time in my life was spend a week rediscovering myself. Having just lost my mother, I was swallowed up in my grief. I had begun to forget who I was. I lost my sense of joy and wonder. I was just going through the motions of everyday life. I needed respite from the horrid storm.

But this trip to Utah was more than just a getaway. I learned that it's okay for me to feel sad, but it's also OK for me to feel happy again, too. I learned that it's okay for me to be alone and it doesn't make me a bad person for enjoying it. I learned to appreciate my musical intuition and skills that I often discount. I learned that people are mostly kind and often misunderstood. I learned that God loves me.

I am so grateful to Dillon who took an entire week off work to be with our kids, and not just "watching" them, but taking them on so many fun adventures while I was gone. He is such an  involved father and a phenomenal husband. I am grateful for that time all those months ago when my mom was dying and he told me if I needed to go on a trip by myself, he would fully support it. My heart leapt. I knew this trip was coming up and I held on until then.

I am so glad I did. I feel refreshed. I feel ready to take on whatever life throws at me. Like the Provo Tabernacle-turned-temple, I feel like I am being rebuilt into something amazing.

1 comment:

  1. Hooray! SLC is my forever heart-home and I'm so glad you had such a great time there!

    I always laughed at people who told my BYU campus had the worst hills. Uh...riiiight. Have you been to the UU? It's literally built on the side of the mountain. :)



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