Talk about culture shock. I grew up in a small town in Washington State. The kind where everyone knows your name. I came from a large family of seven kids, so everyone knew “the Nielson’s.” We made a pretty good name for ourselves in High School, and most stayed pretty close to home after graduation. I, however, did not. Although there are many great things about living in a small town, having opportunity is not one of them.
Salt Lake City, Utah was just a place that we travelled through on our way to Arizona. It seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, and did not look like a place I would ever want to live. It did, however, have choices, which I was lacking. It became an option, even though I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I didn’t know anything about it other than its religious heritage, and it was about halfway between home in Washington and Phoenix Arizona where I lived as a child.
I decided to pack up my Mustang and move to Utah, where I had some family I could stay with. I drove 10 hours straight. My family lived in Kearns off 5400 South. Not knowing the freeway system, I saw the 53rd S exit and figured 54th would be the next one. Boy did I feel stupid when the next exit I saw was 6200 South. Luckily for me, I understood numbers and they get bigger and smaller depending on what direction you are going. I made it to my sister’s house that night in the spring of 1997. Going from a town with one blinking red light, to a city with a freeway running right through the middle was quite a change.
I got really familiar with the area around Valley Fair Mall but didn’t explore too far away from home. Since then I have lived in West Valley, Taylorsville, Saratoga Springs, Lehi, Sandy, South Jordan, and Draper. 21 years ago when I unpacked my little mustang, I had no idea that Salt Lake City, Utah would become my permanent home. I have learned to love living in Utah, and experiencing all the seasons. Well, except for Winter. I am not a big fan. The only thing I like about winter is hot chocolate and snuggling up with loved ones in front of a fireplace. I can enjoy the snow as I sit in my house and watch it drift slowly to the ground. There is something so serene about that vision.
I have enjoyed the opportunities to meet people from all walks of life, culture, backgrounds, and countries. Salt Lake City has become quite the melting pot. There is so much to enjoy living here, large beautiful parks, scenic canyons, hiking trails, and of course all the city swimming pools to help endure the summer heat. Did I mention I love the sun? It makes me happy. So for a few months of the year, I am really happy soaking up the sun and loads of Vitamin D.
Even though I can think of other places I would rather live, my family is what keeps me here. Until the time comes when it is an option for me to move, I get to make the best of having my sisters here and enjoying all Salt Lake City has to offer.