Friday, May 28, 2010

Some Things Are Different

Of course I was not thinking that living in Utah is the same thing as living in The South. If for no other reason, the humidity alone will make my hair all sorts of different! But so far, although some things are asking for adjustment, I don’t feel like I live on “Planet Utah”, as an acquaintance of mine suggested. She said: “I’ve worked with people from there. They are so different, they’re like living on another planet. I swear they should require a passport to go visit that place”. Not so much, in my opinion.

Sure, some things are not the same. Like you have to get your car checked out for emission levels before you can register it. And there are no personal property taxes, either, I have heard, but need to look more into it. I just got my bill for the NC car tax, and need to pay that, but then, a couple of days later, the car will be registered in UT, so … pretty inconvenient!

We all knew that the weather will be much, much different, but I never expected the wind to be quite so strong! Must be the position of our house, in the valley, and right before the open desert starts, or something, but when it’s windy out there, it sounds like a tornado! My cats are not used to it yet. And we get this noisy wind pretty regularly, almost daily! It is so strong, it was blowing the screens on our bedroom windows so noisily, we had them removed.

Speaking of the position of our town in the mountains and of the wind: when it’s not blowing, all the smog from cars, industry, households, even from California maybe (have to check on that) gets trapped in the valley, and we get this thick smog thing, like fog, but thicker and nastier, totally unbreathable that hides everything around that’s further than say 50 feet. It’s brutal. You can still go about your business like a normal “cloudy” day, but it looks horrible. And this is apparently “normal” around here. Just another “weather event”. Looks very unhealthy.

My back yard: before and after "the smog" came in

Another “different” thing is the stop lights at the end of ramps on the highway: if you take an exit to go on the highway, sometimes, there is a traffic light at the end of the ramp, right before you merge onto the highway, which is on (especially at rush hours), and turns red for every car that reaches the highway. Every car has to stop, and if it turns green only ONE car is allowed to merge on the highway! That’s supposed to make the traffic flow smoother. Haven’t caught one yet, but man, sounds like it does the opposite!

And speaking of traffic! Till I moved here, I thought I drove fast. All my friends thought I drove fast! Oh, God! I am the slowest poke on these highways! People are flying out here. My husband says it’s because it’s The West, and the spaces are so vast, people think they can go however fast, there is no stopping them – but I don’t know. It scares me. And I never thought I’d ever say that speed could scare me!

I was very pleased to find that the fast food store inside of WalMart is … Subway! In North Carolina (or Greensboro, at least), it’s, of course, McDonalds! Like I said before: the further you travel out West, the more health conscious people seem to get … Lovely! Although remember: Subway is great, except for the breakfast!

Of course, I will say a word or two about the whole “Mormon culture”. But not too much. Or not too much judgment here! After all, I am in their backyard, not the other way around.

It is still very eerie to me to go to a restaurant on a weekend and to be virtually the only person in a packed establishment ordering an “adult beverage”. Feels very odd! Sure, it’s legal, but you feel in complete minority! They say the beer they sell in stores here is 3% alcohol or less, and I believe there is something … different with it, because I can drink up to five and I feel nothing. Nothing other than a full bladder, sure! Just strange …

And for the life of me, I thought Greensboro was a “family oriented area”, a great place to raise a family, and always felt like it’s definitely not a good place for singles! Well, I have never, anywhere I have lived, seen kids outnumbering the adults everywhere! In any store you go, there is an average of 3 kids for every adult you see, and that’s not an exaggeration! And usually, if the adult is a woman, she’s usually pregnant! There is nowhere you can go (except the “hippie”, alternative areas of Salt Lake, sure) where you don’t see kids, or hear them, either talk loudly, or scream, or just chit chat in their crystal voices! Kids – everywhere!

The median age of Utah county residents is just barely over 23! Sure, there are two universities here, but there were at least four colleges in Guilford County, and according to the 2000 Census, the median age there was 35! 23, folks! That’s a baby! Or, thousands! Anyway, lots and lots of kids – you get the idea.

Another random observation is that almost every house has a camper. Forget that every house has a 3 car garage and at least 3 cars parked outside of the ones in the garage! Every car has a camper. This weekend, being a Holiday weekend, there was nothing else on the highway but Winnebago-s! Happy trails, is all I’d say!

Also, I cannot close before I say a word about coffee. Sure, you all know that Mormons don’t drink coffee. So, with nervousness in my step, I approached the coffee aisle at WalMart and then at the neighborhood grocery store. The size of the coffee display is probably half of what you see in NC or anywhere else out East. The Millstone coffee my parents love has only the baby 1.75OZ vacuumed packs available at WalMart (very, very small selection, about 3 flavors which don’t include my parents’ favorite) and there is no Millstone at the grocery store. I couldn’t even find the Folgers vacuumed pack I drink – only the plastic canister one. More expensive, but it’ll do! And my parents thought it’ll be trees they’ll miss in Utah! Ha! But good news for the coffee shop snobs who would like to visit: there is Starbucks!

But as always, I am looking forward for more differences! I am learning new things, even just at the checkout counter and at the grocery store and intersection level! So, I am happy. For now. I bought a couple of “Western” magazines (sort of similar to Southern Living, I’d say) to learn more about living out West. I cannot wait to discover the possibilities!

Stay tuned!

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