After over 4 years and 4 Christmas holidays not setting foot in Utah, I went back to Utah to visit this year, and become reacquainted with family and the changes that have taken place with everyone and myself. That being said, I ended up at Starbucks for at least one day. I actually like Starbucks, I was just hoping for something of a local flavor. Fat chance it seemed in the northern suburbs of Salt Lake City.
Five days in to my trip I still hadn't had any alcohol since the plane ride. The family party, which was normally on the day after Christmas, had been moved to the following Saturday because my sister's family were still getting over their illness.
I wanted to get some alcohol for the party but I had no idea where these Utah state controlled liquor stores were and I had no GPS. I ended up calling a friend in New York who talked me through it over the phone only to arrive and find out it didn't open until 11am and I wasn't going to wait around all morning for it to open. So, I sent a text to my brother-in-law to pick up some Jack Daniel's Honey Whiskey on his way in later that day. I was hoping for the single serve bottles but found out you couldn't get them in Utah. So we had a large bottle that he and I drank from. The other half my dad decided he wanted it, much to my surprise.
Early in the week my mom and I went driving around the valley looking for a new winter coat as I badly needed one. We tried REI, Cabalas, A.A. Callister, and I ended up finding some nice winter riding boots. I had my eye on them for years. It's hard not to buy tall boots when they are right there in front of me, and they fit. My mom offered to pay for them but I declined as they were an impulse purchase we were there to buy a coat and we should stick to the plan no matter how much it costs us in the end. You might get the impressing that I like shopping. Nope. I don't. But having my mom there assisting, made it easier.
But one thing led to another and I realized I couldn't wear my new boots around unless I had some new Levi's to tuck into them. I packed light this year and only brought basic pants and shirts, nothing more different than what I would normally wear to work. So we went to look for pants. I was quite surprised that the 501 button fly ones fit me really damn well, despite my fat thighs and butt and huge belly hanging over my belt. They made my boots look damn good on me. I wore my new jeans and boots pretty much the entire week. I even wore them home on the plane.
I had hoped that I might get to meet up with some of my furry acquaintances in Utah whom I had gotten to know over Google+. But they were all too busy with family which is understandable this time of year. But I did have a chance to meet up with my friend Jen whom I had gotten to know through her blog and the Facebook ex-Mormon groups. She has horses! And it turns out that impulse boot purchase paid off as I got to go riding. Well sort of, the horses were not in the mood, so we relented and let them eat. But we didn't get off. We sat on them while they ate. We showed them.
I'm so glad we sat there. The smell, the touch, the movements, of these animals allowed me to dissipate my anxiety. The anxiety that hit me when I pulled into her driveway. It's hard for me to meet people I already know in person. And this one hit me particularly hard and quickly. In the 90 minute drive it took me to get to her house, I was feeling calm and joyful to be going. But upon approaching the house and pulling into the driveway, it hit me hard. I couldn't get out of the car. All I could do was send a text and let her know I was here. I'm sure she realized that without the text but I sent it anyway. Thankfully she had gotten past her anxiety of meeting me and came out to the car to get me. And that is what I needed. I think I had become consumed with the fear of rejection, and when she didn't reject me, I started to feel ok again. Still, the anxiety still took time to dissipate, and I still found myself pulling back a bit, not really relaxing and letting myself be all there.
My family hasn't been all that troublesome in my life since coming out. They may be Mormon, but they take the religion on their own terms, which is what I wish the rest of the Utah Mormons would do. I even found myself in a conversion with my dad and later with my brother-in-law about BDSM. I had a brief moment when I felt awkward when my dad asked about MAL and what I did there. But as with my mom, the conversation was challenging but never got awkward. The conversation was friendly as I talked about what it meant to me and many people and that for many, its therapy. Just like my mom, he gets it but doesn't get it at the same time. Just like how I get why they remain Mormons but I don't get it at the same time. And just like that, the conversation quickly moves to politics as we commiserate on the pathetic state of Teabagging Republican dumbasses or the embarrassment that is the Utah Governor and the stream of Attorney Generals. There was little to no mention from anyone about the gay marriage drama happening at the time. The few mentions were from a random nephew or my dad reading to us joke making fun of the Governor about in City Weekly.
Times have changed. I would never have had the freedom to be who I am twenty years ago. So it's good to know just how far, not only I've come along, but the rest of my family as well. And in many ways, they had passed me. I hadn't been aware of it because I had moved out 20 years ago.
My main reasons for avoiding them was their general emotional dysfunction, co-dependency and the triggers from them and of being in Utah. I needed the space to find and break those triggers. And now gauging my experience over the week, it seems that many of those triggers have gone, mostly within the last year.
But, I'm still not so sure that I'll ever move back there. My last day there I spent the day with my brother-in-law. We went to one of the local micro breweries in Layton and attempted to order some tasters for the beers they severed. I sat in stunned silenced as the waiter tells me that I'm restricted to only two 4 oz tasters and then 1 beer per hour after that. Only two tasters? One beer per hour? I wonder if Utah will ever legalize adulthood.
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