One year ago today, my little green Honda rolled out of my dad's driveway towards the Salt Lake valley. My little car was packed full of everything I thought I would need for my new life in Utah. After one last breakfast at The Pine Cone, I drove out of Washington, through the barrenness of eastern Oregon into the lush farmland of Idaho and the mountainous desert of Utah. It was a blissful, determined drive-- cranking songs like "Wide Open Spaces," laying in the grass at rest stops, taking in every second of the changing landscape as I made my way southeast.
I didn't know what to expect-- and I hadn't really thought to expect anything. For months-- almost my entire tenure at Callison-- I had been bent on getting out, filled with the vague uncompromisable hope of somewhere else. Going to graduate school, that was it. I couldn't have predicted the acute loneliness of those first days in Utah, aching for my family as I watched my first sunsets over the Oquirrhs, longing for friends as I tried to negotiate a new ward and my ever increasing spiritual isolation. I didn't think that that time would give way to the unexpected: A quiet evening on the couch when I determined vaguely to "take a break" from church that I knew would be permanent. The intense relief of making friends and getting a better job and finally feeling like I could keep my head above water in my classes would never come. A new sense of agency that forced me to rethink everything-- the control I have over my body, my relationships and my future. Those possibilities weren't clear as I unpacked my life into this little room. I just knew that everything, somehow, would get better. And it did.
It pains me a little to look at pictures from before. I get frustrated when I find myself explaining my lack of experience in the world to someone who didn't know me then-- I feel like some naive ingenue in a Henry James novel. I struggle with resentment, that I never would have allowed myself to imagine things being the way they are now, that this life I love so much was not even a possibility for me then. It is work for me to look at that girl from last year and to see her as someone who was taking a risk. I am slowly beginning to appreciate the courage it took to get in my car and begin the journey towards being someone I wanted to be.