racheljoi.com

first impressions

I have been in Salt Lake City exactly one month. Our apartment is great (albeit with a tiny kitchen), we have our Utah driver licenses and our plates (Harry Potter themed, of course), and I’ve found a Lutheran church. The dogs are used to not having a dog door, we’ve gone on a few hiking adventures, and we have unpacked most of our boxes. I’ve met Carl’s colleagues, church people, knitters, and gamers.

SLC is pretty great. The mountains are right there, and even cold days aren’t bitingly cold like in Kansas (or Iowa, goodness). People are friendly, and communities come together really easily. We’ve moved down the crazy scale from Kansas politics (though not by tons), so that’s a plus. SLC elected its first openly gay mayor two weeks ago, and the governor isn’t actively trying to destroy the state.

There seems to be an “us versus them” mentality here though, between Mormons and non-Mormons. The LDS people I’ve met here have been friendly and open, and I’ve had some frank discussions about beliefs and lifestyles. From the non-LDS people, however, I’ve heard things along the lines of, “I tried to keep an open mind at first, but I just don’t understand,” and “I have some Mormon friends, but I hang out much more with my ‘normal’ friends.” The line often seems to be demarcated by what a person drinks. There seems to be a higher prevalence of drinking among non-Mormons, almost a shibboleth. I like drinking, but having it as a marker of my culture and/or religion makes me uncomfortable.

Overall, I’m really enjoying being here. One thing I heard from multiple friends in KC was that they had a hard time telling if I liked them at first (two people were convinced I actively disliked them). I’m working on that, trying to make my face less… what? grumpy? shy? I noticed it at church yesterday morning. I went to choir, and as I was introduced to people, I would give a small smile and say hi, but not brightly, and so after worship, I made a point to talk to the people that I hadn’t really engaged earlier. First impressions matter.

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