For a long time, I never thought the day would arrive when I could say these next words, but…
After almost 20 years of captivity, I am finally being released from Utah.
Let me back up a little. Okay. Let me back up A LOT.
When the decision was made, back in 2002, to move to Utah, it was only supposed to be temporary. Yeah. Supposed to be.
My husband at the time, now EH2 (ex-husband #2), was a victim of a downturn in the technology market and was laid off when his company decided to close the fab where he worked. He had already enrolled in college and was going to be starting classes that fall when the layoffs were announced. While we started scrambling to figure out what to do next to support our family, EH2 still wanted to get his degree and make him more marketable in the workforce.
After a lot of discussion, we decided that we would move to Utah. EH2 grew up there, and a large part of his family was still there, which would give us an immediate support system. This would allow him to go to school full-time, as opposed to taking classes around his work schedule, and he could finish his degree faster. The goal was to: get in (to Utah), get his degree, and get the fuck out.
Yeah. That didn’t happen.
When EH2 got his degree, he received a job offer in, you guessed it, Utah. Oy.
By then, sadly, our marriage was on its last leg. It would be another few years, however, before I actually filed for divorce. Once the divorce was final, EH2 was certain that I would ‘get the hell out of Dodge’. But I couldn’t afford to do that. When I filed, I split our debt equally in the petition. He took his and I took mine. The only problem with that was my wage was considerably less than his. So, I asked for just enough alimony to offset the difference. I was never trying to screw him. And when all was said and done, I had enough money to live and support our child, but nowhere near enough to finance relocating to another state.
So I stayed in Utah. Ugh.
To be honest, living in Utah has not been ALL bad. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Utah is plenty bad! We are talking about a highly conservative state, heavily financed by an organization that makes many ask the question, “What happened to separation of Church and State?” It is also a highly populated state, to the point of so very often feeling like there is nowhere to go to get away. And don’t even get me started on the level of ignorance, selfishness, and prejudice I have witnessed during my time here.
What was good, you might ask? Well, I must admit to the beauty of this place, for starters. For being essentially a desert state, you can find so many different topographic examples: red rock cliffs, salt flats, mountains, lakes… I live in a corner of the Salt Lake valley with a stunning mountain view from my patio, which I will miss.
Utah also holds a lot of history. Not just American history (You’ve heard of Promontory Point, right? That’s here. And I finally visited it!), but also personal history. My great grandparents emigrated here from Finland and ran a boarding house in Bingham Canyon in the early days of the Kennecott Copper Mine. How cool is that?
I also found my career path here. I will admit that, when I first moved to Utah, I struggled to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had various jobs, but not enough experience in any of them to see a real path forward. I eventually received an opportunity to move into an accounting support position. That was the moment that the heavens opened and the angels sang out to me. I finally saw a field for which I have an aptitude and could use my existing skillset. WIN WIN!
And then, of course, there is TM (The Man). Had I left Utah when I was ‘supposed to’, or never even come here at all, the odds are high that I would likely have never met him (and we have discussed many times about how we could have still met if the Universe wanted to bring us together). In September, we will have been together for nine years. WHAT????? And he is still alive, can you believe it? Trust me, he counts his blessings every day that I have not killed him yet.
So, see? Not all bad.
In a little over a week, however, I will depart for the Midwest. And as I write that, I realize just how weird that sounds for me.
Throughout my time in Utah, I figured that, someday, I would eventually get back home. After all, I am a Cali girl through and through. And the nearly two decades I spent here were never considered as actually being ‘home’. It was just a really long layover on my way to somewhere else. For many of those years, California and Texas were at the top of a very short list. If I couldn’t afford to move back home, which looked more and more likely with each passing year due to California’s economy, Texas was a perfect second choice. And somewhere along the way, Washington got added to the list, but that is a whole other story.
So, The Utah Hostage now becomes The Midwesterner? Hmmm… Maybe I should just take a celebrity cue and become The Woman Formerly Known As The Utah Hostage.
I think it might still need work.