My family has made rural, central Utah home for the last ten years. We moved here for work but were not strangers to the state: my husband and I both attended Utah State University, and I’d been bouncing to and from the West (and my father) like an errant ping pong ball since I was a baby. In 2017, our employer blindsided us with what felt like banishment from the small life we’d created, and we spent all of last year determining what our next steps would be. Now we know that our careers are taking us to southern Florida. My husband and I are ecstatic with renewed purpose. Our children can’t wait to dip their toes in the Atlantic. As Hawthorne wrote, “Times change, and people change; and if our hearts do not change as readily, so much the worse for us.”
My heart accepts the challenge, but feels a little uneasy standing on the threshold of such a major life change. Utah has irrevocably altered my internal landscape, fortifying me with a Western spirit: big and plucky and fond of long rambles on bluebird mornings. I have found so much comfort in Utah’s liberating solitude. Leaving feels like letting go of a very dear friend.
Goodbye, sweet-smelling alfalfa fields, cool and saturated with early morning irrigation dew; streamlined young hawks perched atop telephone lines; noisy bleating and buzzing of the year’s first shearing at Elmo’s farm. Goodbye to the red rocks of southern Utah, the rugged, snow-laden crags of the Wasatch Range, the alien rock formations of Maple Canyon, and Horseshoe and Nebo mountains – you’ve been fine places to seek shade and solace.
Goodbye, dusty backroads and the realizations we came to together.
So long to campfire s’mores under luminescent star-filled skies at Fish Lake and cowboy coffee gurgling in dented tin pots as friends slowly emerge from their tents, yawning and stretching, in the desert sun.
To all the sounds that fine-tuned my focus – the high-pitched chirps and squeals of marmots, killdeer, and eagles; cattle lowing in the distance; the riot of starling wings, unfurling in ribbons along the fence line; geese honking in broken v-formation; skunks rustling in tangled, verdant undergrowth; the trickle of alpine streams and the roar of surging rapids – I will miss you. A respectful farewell to the state’s pioneer spirit, which seeps into the bones like minerals in warm springs, making pilgrims out of the unlikeliest souls. Thank you for an epic decade. Our lives here have been like a dream from which, even as we move forward, it is extraordinarily difficult to wake.
© Julia Moris-Hartley 2018