Recently, my wife and I move 2,200 miles across the country from North Carolina to Utah. The three day journey was long, very long. With three cats in our tiny compact, we weren’t able to savor the trip as much as I would have liked at times. Pressing on to see my new home state, for the first time, kept my mind racing and occupied during the endless blur of yellow lines. For me, mountains have always been the place where I feel at home. Anytime I’m not in the mountains, I’m wishing I was. It was a critical detail for me that we move somewhere in or near mountains.
The mountains here in Utah are nothing like the mountains we had in North Carolina. The Appalachian Mountains are giant rolling hills covered in ancient forests of oak and pine. They are not demanding or imposing structures, but they do envelop you with the familiar embrace of home. You never really get a sense of hugeness from the North Carolina mountains though. From a distance they look like featureless shadows.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but love for my old stomping grounds in the NC hills. Every time I would start the upward trek into those hills I would be overcome by the most visceral – almost tangible – sense of nostalgia and longing, knowing before moments even happened that they would be something I would remember forever, purely due to the connection I had with that place. Those mountains wrote my first book. They turned me into the record store guy. They taught me to follow my heart, not my mind.
The mountains in Utah are the complete opposite. Utah, if nothing else, is huge. Here, I am surrounded by a backdrop of looming behemoths, with chiseled faces and angular features, brought to life by shadows and the contrast of the snow covered peaks. There was only one correct reaction to the majesty of this place when rolling in the first time:
To this day, four weeks later, I still feel like the distant view is simply a painting, a Truman Show-esqu dome of trickery and deceit. It is just too picture perfect. Too beautiful. It isn’t just the mountains here that have such a demanding presence though. The wilderness here is home to a slew of unfamiliar beasts. Bison, case and point:
So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been the past few months, I was getting ready for this move, this journey, this totally new stage of life. It hasn’t been the easiest thing I’ve ever done, and there are still many pieces that need to fall into place here (a job!), but no part of this feels like a mistake. I’ve never lived somewhere that could excite me this much just from looking out my window or walking outside like Salt Lake City has. I’ve got a list of national parks and outdoor adventures longer than the Bible waiting for Lizard and I to start crossing them off. There’s also a larger-than-expected community of keyboard enthusiast’s here that I can’t wait to get involved with, as I have missed the incredible east coast clackers tremendously already. I truly am excited to slowly start making SLC feel like my home and not just a vacation in some surreal dream.
Home, for now.