Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I have never actually lived in Utah before, unless you count before my memory. I've heard lots of things in my day about what a “Utah Mormon" is. I have always taken the view of undecided on that one--until I moved here.

In the two-and-some years we have lived here there has been many a time we have shaken our heads at our fortune. The schools are better, the neighborhood is idyllic, and the temple is fifteen minutes from my door. Fifteen minutes. We walk to church, my son is on the fast track to Eagle Scout, and my girls are involved in Stake plays, school programs, and have two separate Achievement Day activity groups. Our Young Women sang in a General Conference session last year and this year the General YW President actually came to our Girl’s Camp. I thought surely we had moved to Zion itself.

But it hasn't been like that. Take my neighbor "Jane."

I have never hit the right cord with Jane it seems. I don’t spend all my time educating my children from the best books or creating stimulating activities for their minds. I have been known to drop by unannounced with a something sugary and/or chocolately and expect adult conversation. We play loud music in our garage, our lawn is known to have an excessive buildup of toys (and other miscellaneous things) and I have been known to throw in the very occasional “hell” here and there in conversation. Very occasional. Really.

But I have tried with Jane. I have really tried. I’ve offered to watch her kids, taken over a cumulative kitchen of food in various forms and made a general effort to be friendly. Yet still I cannot get a spontaneous “hello,” or “how are you?” or even, “Man, those scones you brought over on Sunday that were still piping hot to thank my husband for going to scout camp were incredible.”

I saw her in the library again the other day and she didn't even acknowledge me. And yes, she did see me.

There is a reason I have failed to fit in here—which is simply because it may not be possible.

It is likely I’m not the first to be blinded by idealistic expectations of unconditional sisterhood and acceptance in this area of the country. I swear sometimes I think I am invisible in this house. Not once in the three months when Peter was gone this tax season did someone actually come over to ask me how I was doing. Don't misunderstand, it wasn't that I wanted anyone to actually do anything. I realize lots of people are struggling right now. It is just the idea that someone even knows I'm here. I already feel like enough of a freak at school, thank you very much. I don't really need it elsewhere. Interestingly, it seems when I ask others how they are doing they look at me like I've just grown an extra appendage right in front of their eyes. I guess people just want their privacy?
Have you ever felt like standing out on your lawn and yelling, "Hello??? I'm here!! Doesn't anyone just want to go to Target with me and talk about that new movie with (insert hot guy movie star)?"
I'm guessing not. But I have.

ve decided it isn’t really important to me what a person's personal choices are, I can still be friendly to them, especially when they live feet away from me. I personally don't believe there is only one way to practice your religion. However, I do think that a genuine sisterhood applies across the board, whatever your religion is, just by virtue of being neighborly. Some of the people I have known with the most integrity have been those who claim to be atheist. So what gives?

I've lived here 2 1/2 years. I'm giving it 4. After that I've concluded that most of my friends are likely to be colleagues at my future job.


Meg said...

April your post makes me sad. Your neighbor is missing out on getting to know one awesome individual. I don't live real close, but I can certainly drive out to where you are. Let's do something...I would LOVE to talk about (hot guy) in "new movie"! I've had a hard time making friends in Utah as well! Call me if you just want to hang out or whatever! (801)819-5533 I'd call you, but I didn't put your number in my phone the last time you called, cuz I'm a loser ;)

Cristin said...

You know, I used to live in Utah and I meant some incredibly nice people there, BUT I have never met as nice people as I have in Tehachapi. I know that sounds crazy.

Jim and Tammy's Life. said...

Hi April, I hope all is good, Your post makes me sad for you too, you are a crazy girl with great kids and family. Come over my house anytime. I will feed you spaghetti just to cheer you up and I can get a good laugh (remember)Take care and I love ya lots!!