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."