Thursday, March 22, 2012

Coming home

So I was born in Salt Lake. I lived in Salt Lake until I was six. I visited Salt Lake regularly until I was in the fifth grade because my maternal grandparents lived in our old Salt Lake house. I moved back to Salt Lake when I was 26. And yet I have always thought of Provo as home.

It's because I was a bike-riding, barefoot-running, foothill-hiking, high dive-diving, slumber party-sleeping, ghost story-telling, MAD Magazine-reading, Sears Christmas catalog-loving, cookie dough-eating, cartwheel-turning kid there. Later, of course, I was a book-reading, downtown-visiting, boy-loving, car-cruising teenager. And all the time I was flanked by mountains and lake and river and fields and peach orchards.

I had a good childhood.

Anyway. Yesterday, I had to spend some time in downtown Provo, and when I looked around I really saw for the first time how all my landmarks--the library, the tabernacle, my old high school, the campus, the department stores like Penney's and Clark's and Firmage's, El Azteca--have all changed or disappeared completely. Completely. Same with the old houses I used to love--Algie Ballif's home on University where Gigi and I used to watch the parade has been replaced with apartments. The river bottoms where Ken used to ride his dirt bike to get away from the cops is filled with shops and mansions now. NuSkin looms over Center Street like the Evil Empire (nothing personal, NuSkin! It's just that your building looks like it's into world domination.) Except for a few places (Heindselman's knit shop), my old downtown is gone.

Later, as I headed north around the point of the Mountain and entered the Salt Lake Valley, I thought to myself, "I'm home now. After all these years."


Lisa B. said...

What a wonderful post. I remember when I realized that Utah, the whole thing, turned into my home (as opposed to California)--we were on our way back from a trip to Cali and we drove into the valley in high summer, the mountains so glorious and the night starting to cool down as it does almost always in the summer, and I realized that I was home for good here.

Since I moved around so much when I was a kid, the only place that felt home-like to me was Palos Verdes and the surrounding cities, but I also never really belonged there, either. And truly, the places I spent my childhood--Edwards AFB, Japan, and Tucson--are either entirely inaccessible to me or completely changed, as you say. I remember going back to my house in Tucson on a drive by, and thinking, wait, why is it so small? because it seemed like a big house to me when I lived there.

I also remember when you moved to the SLC, and how instantly emptier Provo felt without you. True story.

radagast said...

Beautiful nostalgia. I spent the first month of my life in Provo, without really developing an opinion. Then there were seven college-student, married years when I mostly hated it. Almost thou maketh me repent myself.

James said...

Great post. Beautifully written.
After 20 years in Las Vegas, Provo still feels like home. My wife, who did not grow up there, would move to provo if we could.

DylanE said...

Sadly, I feel the same way about the Avenues. The last few times I was in the Aves, I said when did all these yuppies who look at children as a burden take over? Where's the kids playing on the yard, scraping up their knees, etc.? I will always love our house, but in some ways I feel "homeless." Hopefully Julie and I will find a place that feels like "home" together.

Donna said...

Oh my.....sniff. Thank goodness for vivid memories.
I am usually thinner in them anyway