This week marks 20 years since I arrived in Utah with my then-best friend. Both of us were naive returned-missionaries, didn't have a penny to our names, but we were ready to take on the world. I had been warned by people (among them my own mother) that moving to Utah would cause me to go inactive.
I've been asked repeatedly throughout my 20 years living here why Utah? I can't help but think, why not? But instead I tell people that I very much enjoyed this place, the scenery, the relatively mild weather (compared to Texas and other places) and yes, the reality was that I was here to be with the saints. It felt like a safe enough place, where I could be on my own, go to school, work and create a life. I learned a lot of interesting things being on my own, some of which scared me (like my first job interview here where I was asked where I went on my mission) some of which were exciting--such as being able to go come and go pretty much whenever I chose and then also discovered things about myself that I was probably not prepared to face or deal with, but I've talked about these before, I'll spare all the dirty details.
As the days turned into weeks and months and years life went on: jobs, friendships, relationships church callings, marriage, children, bills, moves and all the things that come with life---
"We were so happy
we didn't even know how
miserable we were"
--Fiddler On The Roof
I am not sure where things started to unravel in life, but something tells me that I never quite had it all together to begin with. The life I had didn't seem to fit quite me no matter how hard I tried. I was just playing a role in a show that just kept going and going and going--sometimes the episodes were interesting, sometimes they were sad and often times they were simply boring. I tried to flee Utah a couple of times to Southern California--the only place I ever found remotely interesting to drop everything and go and as I've told people, only to be chewed up and spit right back to Utah. Perhaps by all outward appearances we were just like any typical family--the normal ones (little does anyone know there are no normal families). But life has happened and continues to happen, isn't it interesting?
Years later I lost faith in the LDS church and left with my family--mom's words became a reality. I can honestly say that losing my religion was one of most traumatic events of my life. I had no compass, I felt lost and abandoned from everything that I knew, even though I actually never quite fit in that world either--ironic, isn't it? A little over three years ago I wondered where would life take me but I wouldn't even dare ask the question out loud. Staying in a sad, sham of a marriage didn't seem any more appealing than the pain it was going to cause to split up, come out and start living my life. I don't even remember where or how I found gay Mormon bloggers, a community of people who at one time thought they were the only one of their kind in the world.
It took probably another six months for me to say the words: "Yes, I am gay" out loud and start the road to claiming my life. The next couple of years have been nothing short of an epic journey. Tears have been shed, pain has been caused, but some wounds have been healing--but on the other hand, I'm finally able to be me, the real me--have the ability to love and be loved for who I am. It was probably only about 2 years ago that I was able to look at myself in the mirror for the first time and liked what I saw. It makes sense to solve the mystery of why I am in Utah (and keep coming back) oddly as it sounds: This is home, this is where my support system is--call it family and/or dear close friends, Moho family and yes, even LOVE!! I don't know how easier I would have been able to make the necessary transitions, meet amazing people and run into a certain someone who has managed to show me a life and a world I dreamed of but could possibly not envision otherwise had I not been where I am now.
Life keeps going on, oddly enough. I'm far from having it together--I still don't have penny to my name, funny how somethings just never change--some days I honestly don't know which way is up and/or down but I do know that I'm in a better place (mentally & physically, emotionally than I was even 2 years ago) and I'm still a work in progress in other areas, I suppose as long as there's hope. If I could go back and tell that young kid that arrived in Utah 20 years ago this week anything worthwhile it would be to expect the unexpected but be open for possibilities, try everything once and yes, in the midst of all crazy things about life, relationships and growing older (not necessarily wiser) I would only add the following: