It was so easy, when I lived in San Francisco. I’d say to friends, to family, to random passersby, Hey, you should come visit me in San Fra–and then there was a knock at the door, and they’d be at my doorstep with bags in hand, and asking when we could go take a peep at the Golden Gate bridge. I was very popular when I lived in San Francisco!
I am slightly less popular, here in Utah, and I can’t imagine why. Okay, it’s not a major tourist destination. It is in the desert, but without the charming, scenic cacti. It’s got a lot of Mormons, some really insane liquor laws, and in magazine display racks, covers with scandalously bare-armed ladies or which have the word “sex” on the cover are censored with black plastic boards designed specifically for censorship. There are no great landmarks or attractions or must-see items of landscape or architecture that spring immediately to mind, its museums are not considered world class, its culture is not particularly magnetic and dynamic enough to really draw big crowds looking for excitement and adventure.
Come on! I cry. Come to Salt Lake! I swear, it’s a great place and we
will do many exciting things that are maybe not entirely as exciting
as, you know, riding a cable car and eating oysters by the bay and
rubbing elbows with real, live gays in the wild, but my state has a
wild beauty that must be seen to be appreciated, and it’s not a very
far plane ride, and we can go look at the salt flats and the giant
talking Jesus, huh? Mountains! Giant sky! Real live Mormons! Hiking!
Trees! Give up a weekend and give it up for Salt Lake!
I really do want to show people this place I am coming to love, and not
just in self-defense, because living somewhere you hate is likely to kill
you. It is worlds away from California, certainly, and there are so
many things I miss, but when I push that aside, the comparisons, the
demands that everything I am used to be exactly the same here, the
feeling that any differences are drawbacks instead of just differences,
I am filled with a deep and abiding fondness. I can live here for
awhile. I’ll probably be living here for awhile. Come visit me and my
So far, I haven’t had many takers. Astonishingly. My brother and his
wife are going to try and get out here sometime in the winter; my
mother wistfully says she’d like to come, but maybe I should just come
visit her in New York instead and wouldn’t that be nice? Friends have
said they should visit, and will visit, and I love them for it. I
believe in them and trust in them and if they can come, they will
totally come visit! Except I do not entirely blame them, if things come
up and Utah is scratched off the to-do list. So I try to not get my
hopes up, even as I wave my little flag of brand-spanking new state
pride and hometown loyalty. I will even go get a little foldaway
mattress, and wash all the guest towels every week to make sure they
are always fresh, and stock up on cunning little soaps and write out
imaginary itineraries in my head to make sure my guests get the full
breadth and depth of the Utah Experience. I will provide pastries! Come